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Olympic gold winner takes time out from studies to train for Summer Olympics

By Steve Hansen, Photos by Jordan Hartman '02

Sometime in the early afternoon, Megan Quann takes a nap. This is probably not an uncommon endeavor for the average PLU student. What Quann does to deserve this nap most assuredly is.

A typical day means Quann, who completed her freshman year at PLU last May, is awake by 4:15 a.m. and at the King County Aquatic Center one hour later. After a regimen of stretching, she completes a two-hour workout, where she typically knocks out 7,000 meters, beginning at 5:30. Then she's off to the weight room with her fiancé, Nathan, where they work out together until 9. Sometime after that, she tries to do ordinary 19-year-old things, and then, if she can fit it in, she takes a nap. All this is book- ended by another two-hour swim workout at 3:30 p.m. For those counting, that's five or six hours of training, each day, six days a week.

Megan Quann celebrates her first-place finish in the 100-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Open Dec. 4 in Federal Way, Wash.

That's the dedication it took for Quann to earn Olympic gold medals — and she expects to add to that collection this summer. Knowing that working college studies into her schedule would be too much, Quann is taking time off from PLU, planning to return in Spring 2005.

Quann, of course, became the nation's darling in 2000 when, as a 16-year old, she won the 100-meter breaststroke at the Sydney Summer Olympic Games, and helped set a world record in the 4x100-meter medley relay with an unofficial breaststroke split that shaved 0.23 seconds off the world's fastest time.

That Quann, at such a young age, has already logged so much high-profile pool time can only help her as she prepares for upcoming events. In 2000, she was the youngest medal winner on the U.S. Olympic squad. She sees this as a huge benefit. “I know what it is going to be like — I'm a veteran now,” she said. “I'm not going into it naive.”

As part of her preparation, Quann attempts to visualize each of her future races — imagining each stroke, each split, each time. “You feel like you've already raced the race a hundred times,” she said. “It makes it so much easier.”

Such techniques are clearly working. Quann won the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2003 U.S. Summer Nationals in College Park, Md., and then backed it up Dec. 4 with a gold medal in her home pool at the U.S. Open in Federal Way, Wash.

As the venue for the U.S. Open, the King County Aquatic Center was abuzz — a couple dozen members of Quann's aquatic club, the South Sound Titans, cheered her on, and many of the timers and officials not-so-convincingly attempted to suppress their enthusiasm when she stepped up to the blocks. Media lined the pool. And the local hero didn't disappoint. After besting her closest competitor by nearly a full second in the preliminaries, she went on win the event with a time of 1:08.13.

The time is slightly off pace of the American record of 1:07.05 she set in Sydney, but Quann is where she wants to be. In the recent months, she has been working on some stroke revisions, a small step backward to ensure she is stronger and faster by the time the Olympics begin. Nothing short of another Olympic gold — and a world record while doing it — is in her sights.

From here, Quann will compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials July 7-14 in Long Beach, Calif., and, assuming all goes as planned, at the Olympic Games in Athens in August.

Any visualization of Quann's upcoming performance probably will be supplemented with memories from a trip she and her family took to Athens a year after her Olympic triumph. When she was there, one of the stops on the itinerary was the Olympic Pool. Did she get a chance to take a few laps? “They wouldn't let me in the water,” she said. “But I did get a chance to stand on the first-place podium.”

That is something we all might visualize this summer.



© Scene 2004  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Spring 2004

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