A 21-year-old Ridgefield native is heading to the Olympics after making a statement in the Team USA swim trials, shaving almost 3 seconds off his personal best.
Kieran Smith got his start in Ridgefield.
His parents, Sandra and Patrick Smith, and childhood coach Emmanuel Lanzo tell News 12 Connecticut that Smith got to this point through hard work and his dedication to the sport.
Look around the Ridgefield Aquatic Club and one can observe that it’s a Kieran Smith time capsule.
Emmanuel Lanzo coached him there since he was 13 years old.
“He was very dedicated since I met him,” Lanzo says, who later traveled with him to one competition after another. “We went places. Lot of places,” Lanzo recalls.
Smith excelled at a young age in swimming. His parents say he followed in the footsteps of his older brother Grayson and was future focused knowing his talent early on.
“I think he’s always wanted to do it, but it takes having a dream and actually being able to be dedicated enough, and committed enough, and sacrificed enough to be able to see that dream come true — that’s all him,” says Sandra Smith.
The small-town boy trained many days at the Ridgefield Aquatic Club. Now the 14-time NCAA All-American for University of Florida is an Olympian for Team USA.
And when Smith qualified for the 200- and 400-meter freestyle in Omaha back in June, his biggest supporters from the start were there to congratulate him.
“I cannot explain. It still gives me chills,” Lanzo says.
“We’re really, just really super going crazy in the stands up there in Omaha,” Sandra Smith recalls.
Smith’s parents say it’s one practice, one race, and one meet at a time, especially in the weeks ahead for the first-time Olympian.
“When he does feel nervous, he says to himself, ‘I deserve, and I belong to be here. I got here on my own. I’m in the same place as everyone else here, so I belong here, so just let me go out and get it done,'” says Patrick Smith.
Smith’s first Olympic race is July 24. With no spectators allowed at the games because of COVID-19, his parents tell News 12 Connecticut they’ll be watching at home, cheering their son on.