Kieran Smith reacts after competing in the Men's 400m freestyle final at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Swimming Trials on June 13, 2021 in Omaha, Nebraska.
OMAHA, Neb. – The first day at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Swimming dove right into the action at the CHI Health Center this weekend.
Just weeks away from the long-awaited Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Kieran Smith secured his Olympic berth after winning the men’s 400-meter freestyle final in 3:44.86.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” the University of Florida senior said. “This is going to be my first national team in the summer. I’m really excited with that swim and looking forward to improving upon that and being competitive with the rest of the world.”
The Ridgefield, Connecticut native shaved off nearly five seconds from his prelim time of 3:48.06 and praised the improvement on his game plan of starting strong.
Smith returned to long course competition this year following short course success for Florida after setting program records in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle at the 2020 SEC Swimming and Diving Championships. Smith, however, believes that there’s a lot more to improve on heading into Tokyo, specifically around his performance in the latter half of the 400 freestyle.
“There’s definitely a little bit more work to do, like I said the back half wasn’t perfect,” Smith said. “I probably have a little bit more to give on those third-to-last 50 and second-to-last 50. Once I think I get thrown into a tight race, I’ll be able to do my best for Team USA.”
While qualifying for the Olympic Games has certainly been the highlight of the day for Smith, he is looking at continuing this momentum tomorrow in the 200-meter freestyle.
“I still got at least five more days of hard racing, but I trust [Florida Gators] coach [Anthony] Nesty, and he’s done this before with many other athletes,” Smith said. “You know we’re going to sharpen the tools even more.”