What to Know
- Amanda Kendall, 25, and Lexi Cuomo, 15, train at George Mason University’s aquatic center in Fairfax with the Mason Makos swim team.
- Mason Makos owner Heather Haddock and coach Peter Ward have worked with Cuomo and Kendall for more than a decade.
Two members of a northern Virginia swim team are competing in Omaha, Nebraska, this week hoping to make Team USA.
Amanda Kendall, 25, and Lexi Cuomo, 15, train at George Mason University’s aquatic center in Fairfax with the Mason Makos swim team. Both qualified for the Olympic trials.
“It’s just so like surreal, I guess,” Cuomo said. “There’s going to be so many people in the stands and I’ve never like been in front of like that big of a crowd before.”
With 10 years of training behind her, Cuomo, a Centreville High School student, has learned the value of free time – and sleep. She wakes up at 4 a.m. weekdays and 5:15 a.m. on Saturdays.
“It’s a love-hate,” Kendall said. “But the love way overpowers the hate.”
She’s come to thrive on the intense schedule.
“It’s eat, sleep, swim,” she said. “It’s kind of all we do.”
Though she’s 10 years older than Cuomo, Kendall says age is just a number.
“I got a lot left in me, and I want to get it all out before I say goodbye to the sport,” she said.
She’s grown to love mentoring younger swimmers like Cuomo.
“You just want them to do so well,” Kendall said. “I mean, you’re like, ‘Hey, don’t beat me,’ but it’s just exciting. It’s very exciting.”
Mason Makos owner Heather Haddock and coach Peter Ward have worked with Cuomo and Kendall for more than a decade.
“I know their families,” Haddock said. “I’ve know these kids since they were 7, 8 years old. It’s emotional. It’s exciting.”
Ward has seen the transformation with Amanda.
“To see her develop into that from what she was when she was 15, like Lexi is now, where she’s just a fun kid and loves to race and loves to swim, and developed into what is now a professional athlete,” he said.
And like Cuomo, Kendall still dreams of winning an Olympic medal.
“Gold medal around my neck,” she said. “Not a gold medal, any medal. But I mean, just to be able to look up at my parents, smile at them, blow them a kiss and say thank you.”