Kierra Smith at World Championship Trials Toronto Ontario
Trials is this week and I’m relaxed, healthy and confident. This will be my 10th Trials so I know the drill. Sometimes they go well for me, sometimes they don’t. There will be curve balls thrown, disappointments, celebrations, fresh faces on the national team replacing older, familiar ones. Hopefully not too many 🙂 . Regardless, I can give you a written guarantee that there will be drama. Everyone will be fully tapered and no one is guaranteed a spot. In many ways Trials is more exciting than worlds.
My first Trials was in Montreal 2009 and I still consider it an overwhelmingly success. I managed to get an outside lane in the B final of the 200 breast. I was able to warm up at night with all the best Canadian swimmers which was everything, ride the subway back with them, congratulate the winners. I remember all the little things. Even though I didn’t qualify for anything, up to that point, it was my best week ever.
Canadian swimming Trials is the one time where we all get together in one place at the same time. We’re a small enough group where I can walk around the deck and recognize almost everyone. Same thing when I look up into the stands. I’m only exaggerating a bit because we’re all only one or two people removed from one another at any given Trials. We all know this meet is an important checkpoint where it’s often decided if your swimming career continues or….doesn’t.
A quick update on me. I graduated from Minnesota, moved to Toronto, rented part of a house, bought a car, made a few friends and joined the High Performance Centre in Toronto.
My support circle feels both smaller and bigger than ever. Moving cities has its challenges for anyone. I made a lot of close friends in Minneapolis and it feels like I’m leaving an entire support system behind. I’ve had more than my share of what-was-I-thinking moments. What i’ve learned though is that a long distance move just means that your circle grows even wider. I made friends, trusted my new coaches, established relationships with some local clubs and discovered along the way that I’m adaptable.
Leaving Minneapolis was similar experience to leaving Kelowna. I didn’t REALLY want to go and after 6 years the twin cities felt like home. I’d lived my whole adult life there and had surrounded myself with so many great people. I loved them and I think they all loved me back. In the back of my mind I knew that for the next two years it made the most sense for me to live and train in Toronto. The people who run Swim Ontario have been welcoming and have been top notch swimming professionals which has made this transition easier. This is a place where being athlete-focussed isn’t just a cheap throwaway line in some corporate mission statement. They’ve been wonderful to me and I hope I can reciprocate by bringing home some hardware from some far away land someday.
In Minneapolis I had a cute apartment that I shared with my girlfriend, a little chihuahua who I think about all the time and a kick ass college team with one of the most supportive coaches I could have ever found. I was pretty lucky and in 100 life times can never give back to that Minneapolis community what it gave to me.
Moving To Toronto
Amanda and I moved into a basement suite in Scarborough, about 7 minutes from the pool. Our landlords are the best (a fact) and the house is beautiful. We. Lucked. Out. Amanda lived in Toronto for 4 months before getting her dream job in Minneapolis and moving back to the Twin Cities (both happy and sad news!) Toronto has given me a small team of people who I know will be with me every step of the way through the rest of my swimming career. My teammates are all motivated and we’re chasing the same goals. This is something anyone would want to be a part of.
Training in Toronto is the great now that I’ve established a routine. Every practice is individualized and challenging enough that you’re proud of your work and excited to do it all again the next day. You know that level of work? Although I have no breaststroke teammates, I do have like minded and hardworking, goal oriented teammates. We all hold each other accountable and we all have “lets get it” attitudes. We’ve never discussed this, but thats the phrase i’d put on the energy at swim practice. I think we get along pretty well and I know if I needed help I could call any one of them. That’s pretty great, right? Another huge advantage of being in a High Performance Centre is having a yearly competition schedule written out by someone other than me. The past 3 years I figured out which swim meets to go to and then how to find a budget to get me there. It always worked out, but taking that stressor out of the equation has been a game changer. I like not booking my own flights and hotels. I like being given an itinerary with every hour accounted for on the road with having to think about it.
In sum, moving to Toronto has been sweet. I have gone through a lot of the same emotions and obstacles that I went through freshmen year in Minnesota. I wish I could live everywhere at once but on the other hand I’m glad I’m growing my world.
World Championships Trials are in our home pool (TPASC). Amanda coming up for a visit and I’ll have a pretty good group cheering me on. Say hello to me if you spot me.
I have the 200 breaststroke on April 3rd and the 100 breast on April 4th. You can watch the live stream HERE. ( https://www.cbc.ca/sports/broadcast )
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See you at the pool,