Former Ridgefield High School standout Kieran Smith, a junior competing for the University of Florida, stood atop the podium in the 400-meter freestyle at the US Olympic trials held in Omaha, Nebraska over the weekend after outpacing his competition in a race he never fell behind.
Smith’s time of 3:44.86 was nearly three seconds better than his previous personal best, and 3.31 seconds ahead of his closest competition during the qualifier.
The Ridgefield native is already Tokyo-bound but could solidify his position among the US team as he is scheduled to compete in the 200-meter freestyle trial on Monday, June 14 for a spot on that squad.
“I think 3:44 for right now is pretty good," Smith told Swimming World Magazine. "I don't know where I rank in the world right now. Hopefully, it's top-eight or top-10.
Smith said that despite crushing the competition, there is still room for improvement when he hits the pool wearing the American colors.
“There's definitely a little bit more work to do,” he said. “The back half wasn't perfect. I probably have a little bit more to give on the third-to-last 50 and second-to-last 50, but I think once I get thrown into a tight race, I'll be able to do my best for Team USA.”
The 2021 Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held from Friday, July 23 through Sunday, Aug. 8.
“Growing up, I didn’t have much access to a long course pool, so that was something I kind of struggled with in the long course,” Smith added. “Since coming to Florida, I’ve been able to develop some better power, some better efficiency with my stroke to carry me all the way down the pool.”
Smith is the first Florida Gator to qualify for the US Olympic swim team.
A 14-time NCAA All-American, Smith was named the 2020 SEC Male Swimmer of the Year. He holds the American record in the 500 Free, set at the 2020 SEC championships in 4:06.32.
“Kieran undoubtedly highlighted the Gators with that impeccable swim tonight,” Anthony Nesty, his head coach at Florida, said. “He is a student of the sport and it truly showed tonight. We are all extremely proud of Kieran and everyone on this team.
“We still have a way to go for the rest of the meet however, we are confident we will all continue to focus our eyes on the ultimate prize,” he continued. “I am honored to coach this special group of young men and women."
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