Amanda Weir's swimming prowess gave her a unique opportunity and the Brookwood grad couldn't pass it up.
Weir recently signed with a sports agent, electing to forego the remainder of her college eligibility and turn professional. The 20-year-old was a sophomore at Southern California and swam early-season meets with the Trojans before leaving the team. She is completing final examinations at USC and is hoping to be back in Gwinnett by mid-December.
The decision to turn pro comes on the heels of a phenomenal summer that saw Weir set the United States record in the 100-meter freestyle at 53.58 seconds. She said a decision on which apparel company she signs an endorsement deal with - either Speedo, Nike or Tyr - will be coming soon.
"The timing, with what I accomplished this summer, made everything fall into place," Weir said on Tuesday. "It just seemed like the right time to do it, a year and a half before the next Olympics. But it was a real tough decision. I was having an awesome time (at USC)."
Weir, who led Brookwood to four state titles and won eight individual state championships as a high school swimmer, helped Georgia to the NCAA title in 2005. She left college swimming for the following season before enrolling at USC this year.
She also has had a great deal of international swimming success, winning two silver medals on relays at the 2004 Olympics. Her profile was raised even higher by setting a U.S. record this past summer along with a first-place finish in the 100 free at the ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships.
"I absolutely think it was a good decision (to go pro)," said SwimAtlanta Davis coach Chris Davis, Weir's longtime club coach. "The reason I say that is Amanda was never hugely enamored with NCAA swimming. She was always much happier with international swimming. That's just personal preference. And at this point in her life, she's not totally fired up about going to school.
"For those reasons, it's a good choice. It's one of those opportunities that comes once in a lifetime and you better jump on it."
Davis said he only remembers one of his other swimmers, Eric Shanteau earlier this year, ever signing an endorsement contract with a swimwear company.
"It wasn't that long ago when this wasn't an option," Davis said.
"It just didn't happen. It's just been recently. It's great for the sport, great for the kids and great for United States swimming. Because in the past when a lot of kids got out of college, they were done swimming. Now there's another option."
Weir will begin training with Davis when she moves back to Atlanta later this month. She also plans to attend an eight-day altitude training trip to Mexico with SwimAtlanta in the coming weeks.
Davis and Weir then will spend the early part of next year training for the 2007 World Championships.
"I love Atlanta," Weir said. "It's a great place to be able to focus on swimming. That's where I'll be until I feel like I need another change. I love it out here (in California), but I love Atlanta, too. It's my home."
Weir said she had a few options regarding agents, but eventually chose Premier Management Group and agent Evan Morganstein.
The agency focuses much of its attention on Olympic athletes and its notable clients include legends like Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner and Janet Evans as well as current swim stars like Amanda Beard.
"I chose Evan because I think he has a great group of athletes, and they're people I really respect and admire," Weir said. "He's done a lot of great things for them. And he's a great guy. He's great to talk to."