Chloe Sutton’s parents watched breathlessly as the 20-year-old Mission Viejo woman raced in the women's 400-meter freestyle at the Olympic swim trials. She had to finish at least second to qualify for her second trip to the Olympics, and she did.
Tuesday's second-place finish elevated Sutton to become the first American to be an Olympian in both the open water -- an event that takes place in an outdoor body of water -- and in the pool.
Sutton’s mother, Wendy, could hardly watch the high-stakes race.
“I was shaking. I was not looking a lot. I was looking at my husband asking him to tell me what was happening,” she said.
Sutton finished her race and hugged first-place winner Allison Schmidt.
The 2012 London competition will be Sutton’s second time in the Olympics. She was in Beijing four years ago, and has won five medals in international competition.
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Sutton’s father, David, said there were a few unknowns going into this race.
“This was a new stroke that she had,” he said.
The Suttons said Chloe had great help from Laguna Beach trainer Brandon Menchaca, who keeps a picture of the now two-time Olympian at the center of his gym.
He said he is humbled to work Sutton.
“She is the ideal client. She works harder than I ask her to,” Menchaca said.
Chloe’s mother said while everyone focuses on gold, Chloe “definitely wants a medal. She would be thrilled with a medal, period.”
At the trials Saturday, Sutton will compete in her best event, the 800 meter freestyle. If she qualifies, that will give her two chances to bring Orange County another Olympic medal
Sutton opted not to compete in open water and focus on the pool this time around. She placed 22nd in the open water event at Beijing in 2008.