Ever since she can remember, Beth Pendleton’s goal has been to qualify for the Olympic Trials.
The former Hood River Valley High School swimming star and current University of Wisconsin standout has been swimming since she was 5 years- old, and has competed at numerous national meets over the years.
But making the Olympic cut has always been the monkey on her back. Until now.
Pendleton put on her best race face and made the cut in two events at the Aug. 5-9 Conoco-Phillips Long Course National Championships in College Park, Md., becoming one of two Hood River swimmers to reach the doorstep of the 2004 Athens Olympics.
“I knew this was my last chance to make it to trials, so I’ve been swimming really hard all summer,” said Pendleton, a 2000 HRVHS graduate who will join Caitlyn Shortt next July as the first Hood River swimmers ever to compete at the trials.
“I’ve felt strong all summer, and the way my training has gone, I expected to do well,” she said.
So well that Pendleton reached the “big finals” in the 200 and 400 individual medleys, taking eighth place in both (2:19.38 in the 200 IM; 4:52.90 in the 400 IM).
“I was more focused on my times than placements,” she said. “And once I made the cuts in prelims, the final places were just icing on the cake.”
Now that she has qualified, Pendleton has nearly one year to prepare for the Olympic Trials, which will be held July 9-17, 2004, in Los Angeles.
However, before she can compete in the meet of her life, Pendleton must complete her senior season at the University of Wisconsin, where she is on a full athletic scholarship.
“My collegiate career will be over in March, but it’s nice to know that I will be able to continue through next summer,” she said.
“I’ll just have to keep up my training and see what happens. But no matter how I do at trials, this whole experience has been pretty cool.”
Another local swimmer who was rightfully enthusiastic about her performance at Nationals was Shortt, who made the Olympic Trials cut in the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:35.95, as well as the 200 IM with a time of 2:19.87.
Shortt, a senior at Reynolds High School in Gresham, swam for HRV in 2000 and 2001, winning the 100 backstroke state title as a sophomore.
She and Pendleton saw each other every day at nationals, and provided one another with some much-needed hometown support.
“Caitlyn swam extremely well for only being in high school,” Pendleton said. “She was really happy to make the cut, and she’s only going to get better.”
Shortt, 17, placed 14th in the 200 IM and 18th in the 200 breast, which could give her a jump on the 2008 trials.