Summer 2015.  I’ll get to the swimming in a second….first things first.  I bought a car and I drive everywhere.  I mean everywhere.  Instead of walking my dog, we go for a quick drive around the block instead.  I live across the street from my pool  and even though it’s faster and less of a hassle just to walk, I drive.  It’s opened up a whole new world for me and has been the highlight of the Summer so far.  Can’t imagine it getting any better.

Competed for my local club at the Mel Zajac Canada Cup in Vancouver.  I was left to train on my own in Kelowna because my team was in Scottsdale so I deck entered the 200m breaststroke because I was bored swimming all by myself.  It’s just no fun swimming all alone and I end up slacking off unless someone is standing on top of me holding a stopwatch watching everything with the odd Bulgarian swear word directed at me.    I enjoyed the quick trip to UBC (4 hour drive) and got to see a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a while.

In June I went with the Canadian Junior team to the Mare Nostrum Tour in Barcelona, France and Monaco.  It sounds more exotic than it really is.  Airport/hotel/pool/repeat.  The junior team is run a lot like the senior team only with curfews and a no alcohol policy.  Our coaches were great and our gang performed well.  I met Katinka Hosszu and Ruta Meilutyte and spoke with them for a bit.  Super nice humble down to earth people with no ego that I could tell.  In fact, out of the three of us, I just may have had the biggest ego.  You’ll agree how odd that is…..probably a life lesson for me in there somewhere.       I was impressed at how well they carried themselves and interacted with fans and other swimmers.   This is hard to explain and put into words, but it was remarkable to me how these extraordinary athletes didn’t seem all that much different than everyone else except for an almost tangible aura of self-confidence they carried with themselves.   Wish I had that.

My swims went well and I was pretty consistent.  2:25, 2:24 and 2:25.  Pretty good I’d say for in season but I wasn’t in the same league as Rikke Møller Pederson and Kanako Watanabe who are both ranked in the world top two.  I had the best seat in the house for the finals of the 200 breast watching #1 and #2 fight it out.   My vantage point of swimming in lane 3 gave me a pretty good view of the backs of their feet.  The two of them fought it out for gold while I limped home for bronze a couple of times.   This blog writer just isn’t quite ready for prime time yet but I’ll keep showing up to practices and chipping away at my times and hopefully, eventually, there’ll be a prize at the end of this journey.   Note-to-self:  I promise not to  write one of those “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey” blogs if I crash and burn somewhere along the way.

I’ll give my coach a lot of credit because he did his best to convince me that I could compete with those two.  I think he even believed it….at the very least he was successful in making me believe that he believed I could win.  That’s something, right?    He tried getting me to do visualization drills and tried to break down what a 2:22 swim looked like but I wasn’t playing ball.  This is what they teach non-Bulgarian coaches at swim coach school I guess.  He didn’t even swear.    The pragmatist inside of me knew bronze was as good as it was going to get in June of 2015.  My coach was right of course, we all know this,  but I know my limitations and I know what I’m capable of.  I don’t have that self-confidence aura yet.    Maybe I’ll give that visualization thing a try in Russia later this summer.

I’m currently in Victoria for British Columbia AAAs. After day 1 I’m regretting this a bit  because the pool is packed with over 700 swimmers and I could have had lanes to myself back in Kelowna.  Might pull the plug early here or might make the best of it.  Undecided right now.  The warm-ups are like swimming in washing machines fighting for space.   Racers gotta race though.  I’m treating this meet as a training meet and I know Emil will have me do workouts between prelims and finals because that’s how he rolls.  We should be able to get five full days of 50 metre workouts in so I might not see another 25 metre pool for a long while.  After Victoria it’s on to Pan Am Games in Toronto which promises to be fun.  I’m one of those rare Canadians that doesn’t live in Toronto, but envies people who live there.  I competed at the Guadalajara Pan Am Games three years ago and finished with a 5th in the 100 breast and a silver medal from a morning relay and had a good time with athletes from other sports and countries.  I think that experience will help me this time around in Toronto when the good guys race in front of our home crowd.  So far, I’ve never been in a noisier pool than Minnesota at Big Tens and nothing even comes close to Gopher fans packing the pool and screaming nonstop for three full days.  I hope Toronto is like that for Panams because a raucous atmosphere really helps getting swimmers pumped up.  I have no science to back this up but I just know it leads to faster times.

As usual, thanks for reading.   Regardless of how things go at these next three summer meets I promise to check in with this blog more frequently.   Yes,  it’s odd to me too how I find it easier to write about my bad meets (NCAA ’13, JR World Trials ’11, Trials ‘15)   instead of the successful ones.  I think it’s because when things don’t go my way writing about it helps sort it out inside my head.    I promise to find a keyboard more often over the next couple of months with race reports and the like.

Kierra Smith

Victoria BC


July 3, 2015