Amanda White placed ninth in one of her first track races. The fact that particular 1,500 meters came in the Penn Relays, against the best prep runners on the East Coast, was of little consolation.
4 "I was kind of embarrassed by that," White said.
A 16-year-old junior at Dulaney High, White is used to working up front, whether it's on a track, in a pool or on a cross country trail. For the past 14 months she has tested limits -- and usually surpassed them -- imposed by people who aren't quite familiar with her brand of talent and competitiveness.
Involved in running only since September 1990, White already is regarded as one of the nation's best distance running prospects.
She arrived well-versed in the jargon of split times, body fat and lactate buildup, however, and anyone who assumes the youngster is winning on genes and chromosomes alone isn't familiar with the volume of conditioning she has done the last decade.
Since age 7, she has been training in an elite atmosphere with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. While she probably wouldn't peak as a runner until the next century, she's less than a half-second away from the 200-meter breaststroke standard needed to qualify for a spot at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Indianapolisnext March.
"Swimming requires endurance," White said, "and I don't think I'd be close to what I've accomplished in running without my swimming background."
White hasn't done the pounding that tears up young knees. She rarely runs more than 25 miles a week, but for the last four years she has come close to averaging that distance as a swimmer. Be it in a pool or on the pavement, aerobics is aerobics, and White has reached a staggering level of fitness.
* Last December, she placed third in the Kinney Cross Country championships, a must event for the nation's premier high school runners. She is considered a favorite to win this year's Kinney race.
* Last April, White swam the 200-meter breaststroke in 2 minutes, 37.42 seconds in the Senior National Championships. The Olympic Trials standard is 2:36.99.
* In May, she dropped the area track record for 3,200 meters to 10:49.7 at the state championships. She's No. 2 on the area's all-time mile list.
Over 3-mile cross country courses, White is running as much as a minute faster than she did a year ago. She has set nine course records in as many races this fall, and she's an overwhelming favorite to repeat as the Class 4A champion in Saturday's state meet at Western Maryland College.
Those course records usually came after a rigorous Saturday morning in the pool. On Nov. 30, the Northeast Regional qualifier for Kinney will be held in New York. From there, White will take a jet that night to Minnesota, where she'll compete the next day in the U.S. Open swimming championships.
The NBAC has already produced three Olympians, and the program overseen by Murray Stephens is rated the nation's most productive on the age-group level.
At Dulaney, cross country coach Bob Dean developed Bob Wheeler -- the last local to run in the Olympics -- and coached at the University of Maryland, but freely admits that "I'm not working Mandy that hard, because I don't need to."
Even if White isn't exactly serving two masters, can she maintain this schedule?
"I look for signs of burnout," Amanda's father said. "But I can't get her to let up. She enjoys it. I know she has a heck of a lot more drive than I had at that age."
Stan White wasn't exactly the picture of sloth as a teen-ager. A linebacker for the Baltimore Colts from 1972-79, general manager of the Baltimore Blast in 1989-90, radio talk show host and attorney, White said one reason he went to Ohio State was because football coach Woody Hayes allowed him to play basketball and baseball for the Buckeyes.
"My freshman year, I did all three," White said. "Basketball was easiest to give up, but I played varsity baseball as a sophomore and junior. People try to put too many limits on what you can do."
Amanda's accomplishments aren't limited to athletics. She has a 4.0 cumulative grade-point average and takes the four courses offered in Dulaney's gifted and talented program. She excels in math and science.
"I like getting a concrete answer," said Amanda, who likes the stopwatch's way of measuring effort. "In most organized sports, if the team loses and you did well, it doesn't count for anything. Swimming and running are neat because even though they're team sports, you can always look at that individual time, and know if you did well."
She knows that runners mature later than swimmers.
"The things I'm accomplishing in cross country and track are coming against other high schoolers," White said. "Sometimes it's the same with swimming, except that the ones my age are usually the best out there."