ANNAPOLIS -- Gov. William Donald Schaefer briefly stepped out of character yesterday, and instead of answering questions, he asked them.
His subject: Anita Nall, the Towson Catholic Prep sophomore who this month broke the world 200-meter breaststroke record and qualified for the U.S. team that will compete in the Olympics this summer in Barcelona, Spain.
Accompanied by her mother Marilyn, three classmates and Towson Catholic principal Andy Dotterweich, Nall was here to accept a certificate, The Governor's Salute to Excellence, presented by Schaefer before a news conference.
Schaefer peppered Nall with questions, ranging from how she got started in the sport at the age of 6 to the dry-land exercises that complement her in-pool training.
After she said she trains three to five hours a day, it occurred to Schaefer to ask about school.
"I fit it in," Nall said, laughing.
Her principal competition, Schaefer learned, is another Baltimorean, Jill Johnson, who was second to Nall in the Olympic Trials, and the secret of her success is her "family and friends, who are so supportive."
When Schaefer asked about rewards and prefaced a question with, "When you win in Barcelona," Nall corrected him.
"If I win, I'll get a gold medal and maybe a Wheaties commercial," she said.
Later, in the course of talking about other subjects during his news conference, including young people's problems, Schaefer was reminded again of Nall.
"Anita is an inspiration," he said. "She's bright, up and thinking about the future. She has resisted problems, in part because of a strong family structure."