Katie Kinnear had visions of setting a personal swimming record before the end of the summer — but she never thought it would happen so soon, and she certainly didn’t think it would land her where it did.
In a week, however, the 13-year-old Sammamish resident will find herself among the elite swimmers in the nation when she participates in the 100 butterfly at U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
Kinnear, an eighth-grader at Inglewood Junior High School, punched her ticket in May at the Pacific Coast Invitational after swimming a personal best of 1 minute, 2.29 seconds in the 100 fly — 1.2 seconds faster than her previous best. The time slid her in under the qualifying mark of 1:02.39.
“It was my overall goal for this summer, but I didn’t expect to get it that fast,” she said.
Kinnear became the eighth member of the Issaquah Swim Team in the last decade to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“It was something that we really didn’t anticipate happening at this time,” Issaquah Swim Team coach Kyle Johnson said. “The previous day before that event, she was looking really good and we said ‘Let’s make a run at it.’ Usually I don’t like to put that kind of pressure on, especially on a 13-year-old. She didn’t have time to get nervous or stress out about it beforehand.”
Kinnear, who started swimming at age 7 and joined IST at 8, is thrilled at the opportunity. She said she can’t wait to be in the presence of swimmers like Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin. And while the celebrity presence might wear on the nerves of some teenagers, Kinnear said it could give her a boost.
“Sometimes it helps being nervous,” she said. “When I’m nervous, I do my best.”
Johnson said the trials will be great for his young swimmer.
“She’ll get to take in the environment, the experience … kind of a dress rehearsal for 2012, where I really think she can be a main player,” he said.
Kinnear currently attends eight to 10 training sessions per week, and Johnson said that won’t change leading up to the trials.
“We’re trying to keep her more on the minimal side of training,” he said. “As long as we’re progressing we don’t want to exploit her enthusiasm and talent. We just really want to focus on quality of movement and engagement.”
Kinnear will compete June 29, the first day of the Olympic Swim Trials. She has set a small goal for herself, leaving open the possibility of an even larger one.
“I hope to just get a best time, not get last,” she said. “There’s semifinals that have the top 16, which would be really cool to make.”
Johnson certainly doesn’t rule that option out.
“It’s not like we’re just going to be there to take a victory lap or anything,” he said. “She’s going to go for it, she’s that kind of kid. She’ll put it out there.”
Taylor set for trials
Skyline sophomore, Andie Taylor, 16, will also make the journey to Omaha for the U.S. Olympic Trials. The member of the King Aquatic Club earned qualifying marks in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 freestyles, as well as the 200 backstroke, 200 butterfly, and the 200 and 400 individual medleys.
According to her father, she will compete in the 400 IM, 200 fly, 800 free, 400 free, 200 free and possibly the 100 free.
Taylor has won a combined four state titles in the 200 and 500 freestyles and holds the state record in the 200 free with a time of 1:48.51. She has won Swimmer of the Meet honors her last two years of state competition.
The Olympic Swimming Trials run through July 6. NBC and USA Network will broadcast races from 5 to 6 p.m. each of those days.