Will Olympic Hopeful ‘Just Do It?’
This is the first of a two-part series. The series will conclude in next week’s issue.
CAMERA 1: Standing at the pool’s edge, Beth Goodwin narrows her eyes. She focuses on the rippling blue water. The camera zooms in on her goggles, mirroring the water’s reflection.
CAMERA 2: Shaking her legs out, Marion Jones exhales. She calms her nerves for the race ahead.
CAMERA 3: Standing around in a huddle, the basketball players bellow chants. They are ready for victory.
CAMERA 1, 2 AND 3 IN A SERIES: The basketball players are ready to play ball, Marion Jones braces herself at the white starting line’s edge and Beth is now ready to dive in. ‘This is it,’ she thinks. ‘Just Do It.’
‘That was my first commercial,’ Beth reminisced, as she described the job that paid the bills as she trained for the 2004 Olympics.
By Spring 1999, Beth had set every record in the school in the one season she swam for them. But she did it for fun. Despite the insistence of her counselors at North Harford high, she had never considered swimming professionally, or even pursuing it past high school. Beth hated the training involved, the catty teammates, the injuries swimmers developed and the constant ice baths and heating pads she found herself in just to keep the pain at bay. Counselors believed that Beth, if she did not pursue swimming, would end up in community college, ‘You are good at swimming, why try something else?’
Feeling her rebellious fire ignite, she thought, ‘No one is going to tell me how to live my life.’
At the library the next day, Beth’s mother instructed her to make a list of 25 schools she wanted to attend and Beth flipped page after page of book after book. Two hours later, Beth had produced a mixed list of 25 schools, some with top NCAA teams and some with top academics.
Months after sending applications to each of the 25 schools the letters, Beth began to hear back from the most unexpected schools. Fat envelopes from Yale, Princeton and Harvard arrived, along with letters from UCLA, the University of Washington, Arizona State, NC State and the University of Florida. Though Beth had no intention of going to an Ivy League school, she was elated to be accepted by them.
Offering a full scholarship and a swimming team ranked in the top 10 in NCAA, UCLA emerged as the obvious choice. After all, how could a small-town girl from Maryland resist an opportunity to live among the stars?
‘Well, does it have everything we are looking for? Does it feel right? How far away do we want to have it?’
Beth is discussing possible locations for her wedding. Back then she was courting schools