By Mike Watkins//Correspondent
Megan (Quann) Jendrick may not be swimming and training any more but don’t think for a minute that she’s not as active as she’s ever been.
Running around after a 2-year-old, supervising a pool in Washington state, working on a children’s Christmas book for charity and expanding ACQUA, her swim camp and clinic business, keeps her on her toes – and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I'm definitely staying just as busy, that's for sure!” said Jendrick, who announced her retirement at 29 in September. “Daethan (her and husband, Nathan’s, son) keeps us busy, and I have such a tremendous appreciation for everything because of him. That made it easier to retire when I did.
Considering that she retired once before, following the 2004 Olympic Trials, when she came within .11 of making her second Olympic team, it might be easy to second-guess or discount Jendrick’s recent announcement,
But unlike the little boy who cried wolf, she insists this time her decision is final. When she stepped out of the water in 2004, her decision was largely based on disappointment, and once that dissipated and she realized she still had more things to accomplish, she returned in 2005 to train for the 2008 Olympic Trials.
Her efforts paid off, as she earned a spot on the team by finishing second in the 100 breaststroke and won silver as a member of the 400 medley relay team. This came eight years after she made good on her own prognostications to win gold as a 16-year-old in the 100 breast in Sydney at the 2000 Olympics.
“I had said after Sydney I was going to go to one more Olympics, and my plan originally was for that to be Athens (2004), but that didn't work out,” said Jendrick, who always saved her best swims for the sport’s biggest stages.
“After reflecting on it, I realized that a setback shouldn't change my goals but instead, it should motivate me. So I came back in 2005 and re-dedicated myself to the sport and to making Beijing and after a lot of hard training, I was very blessed that it worked out.”
Following the Beijing Games, Jendrick took some time off to start a family with Nathan, and the couple welcomed Daethan in October 2011. She swam up until giving birth, and was back in the water training for the 2012 Olympic Trials a month or so later.
Jendrick said marriage and motherhood changed her perspective about swimming and life in general. After dedicating her life for so many years to swimming at the highest level of the sport, she now had new distractions that taught her about love, life and what’s most important to her.
“When it came to swimming I was really wrapped up in that for a long time, which I think you just have to do when it's not only your passion, but also your career,” Jendrick said. “But after getting married, my perspective changed. I realized there's a whole lot more to life than training and competing. And then, when I started a family and had a child, it's like, ‘Wow! THIS is what love is. THIS is how amazing our lives can be!’
“Being a Mom definitely puts things into a whole new perspective, and while I absolutely am proud and happy about so much that I've been able to do in swimming, you just can't compare even the greatest achievements in sports to anything about being a Mom. I am so much more enthused talking to people about the new words Daethan is saying than I am about any swim meet I've ever been to.”
While her new additions to her family have made her life fuller and more complete, Jendrick wasn’t ready to give up on swimming following the 2012 Trials.
After more than a year of limited training and even more limited national competition, Jendrick competed last summer at the Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships in Indianapolis – the city where she qualified for her first Olympic Team.
She left with a bronze medal in the 50 breaststroke and knew shortly thereafter that it was time to hang up her goggles and swimsuit.
She admits, however, that if it were financially viable for her, she would have considered going after a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team – mostly because her training has been fun and going well.
But she knows the life she’s living now is exactly where she’s supposed to be.
“I was really happy with my training with Nate over the last two years, and we were doing a lot of really innovative stuff that I was having so much fun with,” said Jendrick, who introduced Daethan to the water at 3 months old. “We were training five days a week for 45-minutes to 1-hour a day and my 50 meter breaststroke at Nationals was one of my fastest ever. Of course I'd love to think I could have kept getting faster with more resources. But we made the best of what we had and it just wasn't in the cards to keep going for three more years.
“I've had an absolutely wonderful and blessed career and have got to do more and go more places than I ever thought I would, so it wasn't really as difficult as I had imagined. Over the years when you see your friends retire you think, ‘I wonder what that day will be like for me,’ but it wasn't a dramatic thing. It made sense. I accomplished my goals, and since it had to end at some point, I was very happy it was on my terms.”