“Wading through Adversity,” Ensign, Dec. 1996, 55
The 1996 Atlanta Games did not represent 20-year-old swimmer Kristine Quance’s first attempt to compete in the Olympics. As the trials for the 1992 Olympics approached, Kristine was considered an important contender for the U.S. Olympic team. But then mononucleosis struck, leaving her too weak to compete.
Undaunted, Kristine resumed training with 1996 in mind. Despite painful shoulder injuries, she continued to improve her swimming performance. At the trials for the 1996 Olympic team, she won her best event by eight seconds: the 400-meter medley, which requires the swimmer to be proficient in four different strokes.
But the judges disqualified her victory because of a rare technical violation, and Kristine also missed qualifying in another event, the 200-meter breaststroke, by .13 of a second. The Olympics seemed to be slipping away again. In an attempt to salvage her hopes of making the Olympic team, Kristine entered two races she was not expected to win.
“We never thought, in our wildest dreams, that she would qualify in such tough events,” says Sandy Quance, Kristine’s mother. But Kristine took second place in both races, securing a place on the Olympic team. “She gave it all she had and proved she was a champion,” says Sister Quance. Two weeks after the Olympic trials, Kristine won three events at the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association championships and was named NCAA Female Swimmer of the Year.
At the Atlanta Olympics, Kristine placed 9th and 19th in the two events she had not trained for. However, she was chosen to swim with the 4 x 100 medley relay qualifying team, and she brought home a team gold medal.
“It was a dream come true to be able to represent my country as an Olympian,” Kristine says. “Swimming has taught me a lot about life. Our obstacles and trials can make us better people. I’m more motivated than ever to work toward the Sydney, Australia, Olympics in the year 2000. At the same time, I’ve also learned that as special as the gold medal is, it’s only one measure of who a person is.”
Kristine is an honor student at the University of Southern California. She serves in the Primary presidency of the USC Ward, Los Angeles California Stake.