By Marwan Razouk
A year ago, Anna-Liisa Pold was competing against the best swimmers in the Palomar League. In August, she'll stare down the best swimmers in the world.
Pold, a 17-year-old Carmel Valley resident and Torrey Pines High graduate, is competing for Estonia at the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
"I am representing my club team (North Coast Aquatics)," Pold said. "I'm representing Torrey Pines, San Diego and California and Estonia. My parents.
"What I'm doing is kind of for everyone ... representing girls as athletes and student-athletes."
Born in Tartu, Estonia, on Aug. 24, 1990, Pold moved to the United States with her family in February 1992. Meeting the Olympic qualifying time coupled with her dual nationality allows her to compete for Estonia in Beijing.
"It's been a lucky set of circumstances, a really, really lucky set of circumstances," Pold said.
She knows that the competition to make the U.S. team is much more fierce and that a minimum cut time does not make the grade.
The idea of competing for Estonia in the Olympics originated with Pold's father, Mehis. He contacted Estonian federation officials after his daughter's junior year at Torrey Pines, and they were happy to have her if she could qualify.
"I realized that it was a good opportunity and I should try to take advantage of it," said Pold, who will attend the University of Florida on a swimming scholarship in the fall.