While many of her peers are getting ready for vacations, 24-year-old Suzanne Stettinius has a less conventional plan for her summer holiday.
The McDaniel graduate is traveling to London to claim Olympic glory. Stettinius is competing in the modern pentathlon, an arduous daylong event requiring participants to fence, swim, horseback ride, run and shoot.
"It's pretty unbelievable right now," she said.
"The difference was that in Pony Club, we didn't do fencing," she said.
Stettinius pursued the activity more aggressively in high school when she started taking fencing lessons. She also honed her swimming skills when she joined the competitive team while a student at
Qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Games was no small feat. Stettinius—ranked among the top two female modern pentathlon athletes in the country—had to compete in four World Cup events, the Senior World Championship and the World Cup Final.
"I can't wait to go," she said. "I'm really excited."
In preparation, Stettinius has made training for the five-sport competition a full-time job.
"I'm not working right now," she said. "I spend all my time training."
But Stettinius is approaching the games with some trepidation. In the past two years, she has broken her neck and collarbone, and pulled a hamstring.
"I'm a little worried about it," she said.
Financial burdens are also on Stettinius' mind. She needs to raise $60,000 to fund the experience, which would include coverage for her equipment, accomodations and coaches' travel expenses. So far—with 67 days remaining before her event—$12,000 has been donated.
"This is an amateur competition so the Olympic Committee doesn't pay for anything," she said. "[Athletes] have to use their own money."
But, she added, interested donors can still help out after the event to assist her family in offsetting any upfront costs. More information on contributing is available on Stettinius' website.
"I'm just focused on doing my best," she said.