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Originally published Sunday, June 1, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Swimmer Jendrick keeps not-so-secret weapon in arsenal

Every swimmer, it seems, wants to wear the suit that has played a part in breaking all those world records. Two-time Olympic gold medalist...

Special to The Seattle Times

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Every swimmer, it seems, wants to wear the suit that has played a part in breaking all those world records.

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Megan (Quann) Jendrick doesn't.

Sure, she owns a Speedo LZR, the head-to-toe suit that has made headlines in the pool and recently in the courts.

But she's keeping hers under wraps, at least for now. The suit is her not-so-secret weapon. She has worn it in practice a few times at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. But not for competitions.

Jendrick will wait until later this week at the Omaha Swimvitational, or even the Olympic trials that begin June 29 in Omaha, to wear the fast suit.

"It's on purpose I haven't worn it in meets," said Jendrick, who returned to Olympic training in 2005 following an eight-month retirement after failing to make the 2004 Olympic team. "I'm beating the competition wearing the regular [suit] when they're wearing the fast ones. I enjoy doing that."

Jendrick, now 24, is all grown up from the Puyallup 16-year-old who charmed the swim world in winning 100-meter gold in the breaststroke and relay gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Since 2004, she has married high-school sweetheart Nathan Jendrick, coached beginning swimming to 5- to 8-year-olds, rediscovered her love of competition and coped with nagging injuries.

But that hasn't kept her from jumping right back into Olympic-team contention. She plans to swim the 100-and 200-meter breaststroke at the trials and maybe even the 50-meter freestyle. She has qualified for six events.

Her 200 time (2 minutes, 25.36 seconds) in April is second-best in the U.S. and ninth-best in the world. And that came "completely untapered," meaning she was not rested and not wearing the LZR.

The top two finishers in each event at the trials make the team. Jendrick's 100-meter time is 1:07.98, fourth-best in the U.S. behind the 1:06.66 of Bremerton's Tara Kirk. Jendrick thinks it'll take a time in the low- to mid-1:06 range in the 100, and around a 2:23 in the 200, to make the Olympic team. She says her 100 time will get substantially faster with tapering.

"I think I'm in a really good position," she said. "I think in both of them I have a pretty good chance."

Jendrick said nagging groin pulls have made her careful to warm up before swims, and a cyst in her left wrist has not curtailed her training. Her doctor wanted to remove it with surgery, but Jendrick did not want that with trials coming up. Jendrick also rejected painkilling cortisone shots because she didn't want to make the injury worse.

"So I just put up with it," she said, using a different technique to pull herself out of the pool, and modifying pushups to keep from more damage.

In 2004, Jendrick was beaten for a spot in the 100-meter breaststroke. She finished in 1:07.80, and Kirk, who now trains at Stanford, beat her by .11 seconds. Winner Amanda Beard finished in 1:07.64.

Jendrick said the defeat didn't linger.

"After that was done, that was done and out of my mind," she said.

But the run-up to these trials has a different feel.

"In 2004, I felt like I had a lot of pressure on me," she said. "I had something to prove and everyone was looking at me to make the team. I wasn't really having fun. I just felt the pressure of it."

Now, "I'm pretty relaxed about everything."

Jendrick should be. She still has the suit.

Meri-Jo Borzilleri: merijoborz@hotmail.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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