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ALBANY — Molly Beamer looked at other schools, but none had all the factors she was looking for to continue her swimming career like Oregon State did.

The South Albany High senior made her decision official on Thursday, signing her National Letter of Intent to join the Beavers in fall.

“With OSU, everything was in place,” Beamer said, adding that she’s enjoyed getting to know Beavers coach Larry Liebowitz and his team.

She said she fell in love with the team and that the other swimmers made her feel at home. During her campus visit, she said, she knew in her heart that she would be heading to Corvallis.

Beamer was a 10-time state placer and a seven-time district champion. She was the OSAA 5A state champion in the 50-yard freestyle this past winter in addition to taking second at state in the 100 butterfly and helping South Albany to a sixth-place team finish.

She twice broke the school record in the 100 butterfly and bettered the district record in that race this year.

Beamer began swimming at the age of 5 and started to realize just how good she could be in middle school, when she won a club championship and continued to knock seconds off her times.

She tried basketball, softball, dance and volleyball in her younger years. She continued with volleyball through middle school but decided to only pursue swimming in high school.

In middle school she understood competing at high levels in swimming was possible. But it wasn’t until her sophomore year of high school, when she broke a national standard, that competing in college became a goal.

“I never thought I would be a Division I athlete or in the Pac-12. I’m excited,” she said. “It definitely shows all the hard work pays off.”

A National Honor Society student for her academic accomplishments, Beamer has been forced to miss school activities due to traveling for swimming or studying to keep up on school work.

“At times it’s hard," said Kerri Beamer, Molly's mom. "A lot of people don’t understand how much she’s giving up."

Beamer had interest from other schools, most notably Seattle University.

She could have gone to a lower-division school and instantly been one of the top competitors there. But she didn't want to be a big fish in a small pond.

Oregon State and the Beavers’ schedule will provide a stiffer challenge.

“I chose somewhere where I’m not necessarily the best athlete, where I’m in the middle of the pack, where I can have these teammates next to me to help push me. That’s huge,” she said.

One of her main goals at OSU is to place in the conference meet. The Pac-12 is one of the top swimming conferences in the country.

Beamer hasn’t decided on a college major but it could end up being something in the psychology area. She’s also interested in possibly attending dental school to become a hygienist.

Beamer will continue her career with her parents likely at many of the meets, as they were during high school.

Her father, Hal Beamer, has been a swimming official for 15 years.

“I guess I have to run the meets for the next four years,” he said.

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Sports Reporter