By Phillip Whitten
October 18. IT came as no surprise, but this weekend Amanda Weir made it official: She is going to be a Trojan.
It was the second major coup for the University of Southern California over the weekend, the other being its last-second football victory over Notre Dame. It seems Somebody Up There likes the Trojans.
Weir, a two-time relay silver medalist at the Athens Olympic Games who won her first two U.S. national titles in August, told this writer at those Nationals she expected she would decide to choose the Southern California school sometime in the fall.
Weir had asked for her release from the University of Georgia last June after a year at Georgia that she described as "a struggle." Nonetheless, she helped spark the Dawgs to an NCAA team title, defeating SEC rival Auburn and snapping the Tigers' three-year title streak.
Georgia Coach Jack Bauerle, who acknowledged some difficulty with Weir fitting into his team, declined to go into details. Instead, in an interview last August, he wished her "great success and the best of luck."
In recommending the university grant Weir the release she sought, Bauerle's only stipulation was that she not transfer to another SEC team.
Weir did change her mind about one aspect of her transfer. In August, she thought she would join the Trojans this winter, in time to compete in the 2005-06 season. Instead, she has decided to stay in Georgia and train for the major meets of '06, including the Short Course Worlds in Shanghai, under Coach Chris Davis of SwimAtlanta.
She explained: "My times have been stagnant the last couple of years, but I've always felt I could do more. I can improve my starts and turns, take my race out faster and do a lot of little things that are going to help me."
Arguably one of America's chief hopes for the sprints at the 2008 Beijing Gaames, Weir is about a second behind her Australian rivals Jodie Henry, Lisbeth Lenton and Alice Mills in the 100 meters.
Davis, the SwimAtlanta coach, told local media: "Her training is awesome. She's strong as a bull, lifting heavy weights for the first time, and has really looked great.
"She'll be happy there, and a happy Amanda Weir is a fast Amanda Weir."
At USC, where she will have three more years of eligibility, Weir will add needed sprint strength to the Trojans' distance-dominated squad, which placed tenth at the 2005 NCAAs. She'll be coached by the 2004 U.S. Olympic Coach, Mark Schubert.