When swimmer C.J. Hendry heads to Omaha, Neb., for the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Monday, she hopes to fulfill a lifelong dream.
The 2007 Evans High School and 2011 Florida State University graduate will be competing for spots on the U.S. Olympic team, swimming in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle as well as the 100-meter butterfly.
“I don’t really have any expectations,” Hendry said. “I have goals, obviously; times I would like to achieve. I just want to swim faster than I’ve ever swam. I just want to have fun because this is the biggest meet of my career. All the club swimmers, this is what they want to get to.”
Hendry started swimming at age 7 at the Farmington pool in Evans. She swam for Fort Gordon for a year, joined the Aiken-Augusta Swim League at 10 and then attended Evans High School.
While there she was a 16-time Georgia State All-Star and 2007 Georgia High School Association 100-meter backstroke
“I didn’t know how good I was going to become, and I’ve been kind of a late bloomer,” the English major said. “Being 23, I’m as fast as I’ve ever been.
“Some people are fast when they’re 16. Some people are fast when they’re 20. So it’s crazy to finally reach this point and say, ‘Wow, I’m going to trials.’ It’s pretty cool.”
She has been training in Tallahassee since December, and her schedule is full of activity.
“We have 10 practices a week; two hours in the morning, two hours in afternoon,” Hendry said. “I just have a little desk job that I do between practices to bring in a little bit of money because swimming isn’t cheap.”
Competition is expected to be fierce at the trials, with two spots on the Olympic team for the 100 butterfly and eight spots for freestyle.
As of June 14, Hendry was ranked 59th out of 172 in the 100 butterfly, 78th out of 162 in the 50 freestyle and 89th of 140 in the 100 freestyle.
“I did distance my whole college career,” Hendry said. “I focused on 200s. I did 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke, 200 freestyle. ... All the stuff I’ve been doing since August of last year has been completely different training than I’ve ever done and it’s kept me interested. It’s a lot more fun to do a 50 than a 200.”
If she falls short of Olympic qualifying status, she could still make a national team.
“Any one of those top eight or 16 positions have a chance at making say a U.S. National team, maybe a Pan-Pacific team or a Pan-American team,” she said. “There’s various other national teams that can be made.”
No matter how well she does, one of her biggest
supporters will always be there for her, but unfortunately he won’t be able to see her swim at the trials live.
“We beam with pride for what she has accomplished, without a doubt,” said her father, Keith Hendry. “It breaks my heart to think I may not be there.”