Megan Jendrick has always been a woman with a plan, even when she was a girl.
Before becoming a three-time Olympic swimming medalist, she was 12-year-old Megan Quann from Puyallup with a four-year plan and a big dream.
Watching her first Olympics in 1996 and marveling as 14-year-old Amanda Beard won three medals for the United States, Jendrick set her sights to the future.
“I made up my mind at that point that I was going to do that, too,” Jendrick said. “And at that point I wasn’t a standout swimmer at all.”
Now, the 29-year-old Emerald Ridge High School graduate is making new plans. She’s retiring from competitive swimming and starting as the site supervisor at the Fife Swim Center, joining a staff of about 50 who oversee aquatic events and lessons for about 800 swimmers daily.
“This job was right up my alley,” she said.
Young Quann’s list of more than 100 goals and four years of intense training turned into dozens of national titles and dozens more American and world records. She won three Olympic medals in two Summer Olympics: two golds in Sydney in 2000 and a silver in Beijing in 2008.
But her planned success didn’t stop with swimming. She bought her first house at 18 and started a swim events business with her husband, Nathan. She wrote books and coached aspiring athletes to reach their goals.
“I’ve always been a very independent person,” she said. “I grew up fast, but a lot of it was by my own choice.”
Although her greatest competitive achievement was winning the gold in Sydney for the 100-meter breaststroke at 16 years old, she said becoming a mom was the defining moment that changed her focus.
“Having him was my greatest success,” she said of her son Daethan, who turns 2 in October.
Jendrick’s last Olympics competition came at the trials for the 2012 summer games in London. She said it had a different tone, with more focus on family and fun than work; she placed 22nd only seven months after Daethan was born.
“I didn’t expect to make the team,” she said. “I wanted to do it for fun and show my son what Mom did for such a long time. We got to experience it all as a family.”
Jendrick’s husband said she gives 100 percent to everything she does. He said that retiring from competition will allow her to concentrate on other priorities.
“I think it was the right time and the right choice,” Nathan Jendrick said. “There’s a lot of exciting things we can focus on and go do now.”
That includes less travel, more family time and continuing to build on a swim program she has long been a part of in Fife.
“She and I have spent a significant amount of time at that pool,” he said. “It’s kind of neat to see her have a career there now.”
Dave Kienlen, aquatics coordinator at Fife Swim Center, works alongside Megan Jendrick after coaching her more than a decade ago. Kienlen said Jendrick is one of the most driven athletes he’s trained in his 43 years of coaching.
In their first meeting, she showed him a calendar and a color-coded schedule that outlined everything she planned to do for a good portion of her life.
“It was a pleasure to work with someone who was so motivated, so dedicated, and so focused on where she was going,” he said. “We knew in order to extend this program, bringing Megan on would be a super plus for us.
“Bringing her on is almost like bringing on a member of the family,” he said.
The Jendricks live in Bonney Lake near Lake Tapps. When they aren’t at the pool, they enjoy camping and traveling; Daethan has had a passport since he was 3 months old.
Jendrick is finishing up online classes through Arizona State University and is scheduled to graduate next fall with a bachelor’s degree in healthy lifestyles coaching.
A Puyallup local at heart, Jendrick took the family to the Washington State Fair four times this year using her lifetime season pass that she got after winning her gold medals; 13 years later, it’s one of her favorite Olympian perks.
“This one luckily stuck with me,” she said.
Another one that stuck is a sign near South Hill Mall that still welcomes passers-by to the home of Olympian Megan Quann.
Although she’s ending her competitive career, Jendrick strives to encourage greatness in others.
“The big message I always send to people is to set goals,” she said. “You never know what’s going to come, but if you set goals and work toward them, it’s amazing where it can take you.”Kari Plog: 253-597-8682 firstname.lastname@example.org @KariPlog