Breakthrough At Olympic Trials
In 1988 Sanders had her big breakthrough as a swimmer. She competed in the U.S. Olympic trials, in the 200- and 400-meter individual relays, and the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke. Though she had never made the finals for the nationals, she made the finals of the 400-meter individual medley (finishing eighth) and finished third in the 200-meter individual medley. Sander missed making the Olympic team by .27 of a second.
Sanders continued to train hard, and started doing well in national competition. In 1989, she won the 200-yard butterfly at the U.S. Short Course Championships. The following year, she won the 200-yard butterfly and the 400-yard individual medley at the U.S. Short Course Championships. At the U.S. Long Course Nationals that year, she won the 200-meter individual medley. Sanders, with other swimmers, was emerging as the future of women's swimming in America.
In 1990, Sanders also competed well internationally. She did well at the Goodwill Games winning three gold medals in the 200-meter individual medley, 200-meter butterfly, and 400-meter individual medley. The last race was an upset of Janet Evans, who had a four-year winning streak, with a time of 4:39.22. Sanders had lowered her time by almost nine seconds.
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