(WTNH) — Swimming is one of the most-watched sports in the Summer Olympics. It is a grueling sport that takes a lot of dedication, long hours in the pool coupled with dry land training. Ridgefield, Connecticut native, Kieran Smith, has dedicated many years to the sport and he’s hoping it pays off as he competes at Olympic trials starting Sunday.
Kieran has been swimming since he was six years old. Inspired by his brother, he has dedicated countless hours to honing his technique in the pool.
He swam for the Ridgefield Aquatic Club–competing in the Eastern Zone Championships at the young age of 10. Several meets and championships later, his proudest moment came when he won his first international medal at the World Junior Championships in 2017.
“That was my first major international medal and really, my first major international competition was the World Juniors,” the Olympic hopeful told News 8. “I was really proud to represent the USA at that time–a big stepping stone for my career. I just wanted to go to the meet, and to come away with a silver medal was really exciting for me.”
And that meet was a major steppingstone–it earned him a scholarship to the University of Florida and a spot on his first national team.
As a Florida Gator, he has made quite a name for himself. Among many accolades, Kieran is a 14-time All American and was also the 2020 SEC Swimmer of the Year and 2020 SEC Champion in the 400 IM, 800 FREE, and 500 FREE.
Kieran broke the American and NCAA record in the 500-yard FREE with an impressive time of 4:06 min at the 2020 SEC Championships. He tied that record again this year.
“The first time I did it in my sophomore year 2020, it was a really, really good feeling swim. At 2020 SECs, I still think is my best feeling meet of my life. I usually drop time steadily, I don’t usually have a big meet where I drop seconds and seconds at a time, and that was the first one where it was really a breakout performance for me. And that was the best-feeling race of my life pretty much and it happened to be a pretty fast one as well.”
Even as an American record-holder, he continues to perfect his technique, making sure he’s ready to compete at the Olympic level.
“Even though I have the American record, fastest of all-time, I’m still trying to refine the best way to swim that race. Both times I went 4:06, I don’t think I swam and perfect race.”
“In 2020, I laid off the first 200 [yards], I swam with the pack a little bit, then I picked it up as the race got on. This year, 2021, I took it out really aggressively, and I faded off a little bit, and my own record pace started to catch up to me…I’m still trying to figure out the best opening speed and how I’m going to build into the race.”
He has been mentally and physically preparing for the Olympics ever since the first time he went to trials in 2016. Starting Sunday, he will swim the 400 FREE, 200 FREE, and 200 IM–hoping his years of technique training and record-setting speed will earn him a spot on the Olympic team.
“We stand by the principle that swimming slow, makes you fast.”
During the regular swim season, Kieran endures nine to 10 practices in the pool per week, plus three weight sessions and two dry-land sessions–it’s roughly 20 hours of training per week.
We spoke to Kieran’s mother, Sandra, Thursday morning, and she told us he may also decide to compete in the 100 FREE or 800 FREE, as well.
We wish him the best of luck–we’ll be watching and cheering from New Haven.