Amanda Kendall, at one point one of the fastest rising stars in American swimming before falling out with two different college teams in six months, will be making her return to major competition at the Austin Grand Prix this weekend.
Kendall is representing T2 Aquatics and is entered in the 100 fly, 50 free and 100 free for this weekend’s competition.
It wasn’t that long ago that the 23-year-old Kendall was fast becoming a household name in the swimming community. Swimming for LSU, Kendall rose to become a major contributor in the sprint free and fly races over her first two years, finaling multiple times at SECs and NCAAs.
But her real explosion didn’t come til the summer of 2011 when she qualified for her first international meet and then took things one huge step further, winning four gold medals for the United States at the Pan-American games in Mexico.
Seemingly primed for a gigantic 2012 NCAA meet, the troubles started suddenly for Kendall. Just two weeks before the NCAA Championships, she broke her hand in a non-swimming-related accident, pulling her out of competition at the last minute. Only a month later, word came out that she had been dismissed from LSU’s team for a violation of team rules.
She returned home for that summer, training with her former club, the Mason Makos, for the 2012 Olympic Trials, where she made the semi-finals of the 100 free and 100 fly. Kendall also transferred to Arizona, where it appeared she’d finish out her final year of college eligibility.
But before even competing in a single meet for Arizona, Kendall was dismissed from that team, too, the second time in 6 months a program had cut her loose for breaking team rules. This was fall of 2012.
Kendall never did finish out that college eligibility with a third program. She virtually disappeared from the swimming community for almost a year and a half after those Olympic Trials.
But just about a month ago, Kendall resurfaced with T2 Aquatics of Florida, swimming in the CAT Jingle Bell Classic hosted by Clearwater Aquatic Team on December 13-15.
In those first swims since 2012 Trials, Kendall still appeared to be in great swimming shape, going 22.5/48.4 in the freestyle events and 52.7 in the 100 fly, each swim just a half-second off her lifetime-best. She won each event basically unchallenged.
Kendall told SwimSwam she’s been training with T2 since November, calling it “a nice change.” According to T2 coach Paul Yetter, Kendall reached out to T2 herself, and officially joined after visiting the team last fall.
“She competed at the 2011 Pan-American Games with Erika Erndl and Elizabeth Pelton, both T2 athletes,” Yetter said. “I think having had that connection may have facilitated some familiarity with our program here in Naples.”
“Amanda’s training has been going well,” Yetter said, “and certainly we are excited to have an athlete of Amanda’s caliber training with us.”
Now, two months in with her new club, we’ll get to see how she does in a big-time national-level field, as she’s entered in three events in Austin and seeded as high as third (in the 100 fly) in a meet that could serve notice of a return to a promising career that had appeared to have all but slipped away.