Canadian Olympian Kierra Smith Returns To Minnesota Training Base

Canadian Olympian and Pan Ams gold medalist Kierra Smith is switching up her training base, returning to the University of Minnesota and coach Kelly Kremer only about two months out from Canada’s Olympic Trials.

Smith was a collegiate standout for the University of Minnesota, winning the NCAA 200 breaststroke title in 2015. She took an Olympic redshirt season from NCAA competition in 2016, spending the fall at Minnesota with Kremer’s breaststroke group, then training in Canada from January through Canadian Olympic Trials in April.

This time around, that combo is flipped. Smith had been training at the High Performance Center in Ontario. But the breaststroker has returned to Minnesota for the final two-month push to Canada’s Olympic Trials, with the 2020 Olympics several months further out. Smith made the move to Minnesota in late January, just after the Knoxville Pro Swim Series.

“There’s never a perfect time to make a move,” Smith told SwimSwam. “My reasons for moving back were more personal than anything. I’m engaged and my fiancée lives in Minneapolis.

“I think in the two years in Scarborough I made a lot of friends, connected with a lot of teams and put on clinics in southern Ontario helping out younger swimmers, but once Saturday morning practice ended it was a long time sitting around an empty apartment until Monday practice. I was just lonely and decided to do something about it.”

“Ben and I are great,” Smith said of her time in Ontario with coach Ben Titley. “I’ve been working with him on National teams since 2014 and I am excited to work with him going forward.  Training with him full time was a valuable experience and I am beyond thankful for the time, resources and energy that he and the high performance centre staff has put into me. Ben and I came to this decision together that it is best for me to be in Minneapolis for these next 8 weeks leading to trials.”

Smith said her history at Minnesota is making the transition much smoother.

“We didn’t skip a beat,” she said. “Kelly and I have experienced both the highs and lows in this sport and we’ve worked together for so long. Kelly and I have always been on the same page that success at the end of the year depends on the work you put in and the importance of how you treat your body and mind the 20 hours a day you’re not at the pool.

“Minnesota has always been really good to me, it’s a great feeling to be back.”

Smith joins a loaded training group of elite breaststrokers, something Minnesota has been known for. The Golden Gophers currently have All-American Conner McHugh in the mix as a pro, along with current college All-Americans Max McHugh and Lindsey Kozelsky.

Canadian Olympic Trials begin on March 30 in Toronto.

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Mnswim
9 months ago

Excited to hear this news! Best of luck on your journey.

mike
9 months ago

I am Not a HP swimmer, far from it. Just interested in the sport and swim daily. But why would a HP swimmer quit a program less then 60 days before Olympic Trials after spending 2 years in the program?? Seems to me there is a serious problem with coaching? And would this not effect her Taper? Interested in any comments from College HP Swimmers. P.S. on another subject when I do hard 50’s, 100’s , and 200’s I am pulling to many bubbles. Can you give me drills that will cut down on all the turbulence/ bubbles in my hands when I pull. Any help greatly appreciated.

STOPTHAT
Reply to  mike
9 months ago

She literally said the exact reason she’s moving back to Minnesota, her fiancee lives there. If there was an issue with coaching, there would be far more swimmers leaving, they can train wherever they want.

mike
Reply to  STOPTHAT
9 months ago

Yes she did say that. She had been there for 2 years! I only wonder why she left it til less then 60 days before Trials, And others in the past have left this program. Answer the question, would this affect her taper? Is this not a big deal
to disrupt a training program so close to the Olympics?

Admin
Reply to  mike
9 months ago

I think there’s a few realities here: 1) This is not brand new training for Kierra. She’s trained more as an elite with Kelly than anybody else. 2) She is the only breaststroker at HPCO. Sure they have a wide variety of swimmers there, but a pure breaststroker like her is just way too different. 3) A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer 4) Taper hasn’t started yet 5) Kelly is a very smart guy, and Titley is an employee of Swimming Canada. I would imagine that they’re going to work together to make sure that Kierra isn’t going to have some drastic, wild change of training plan. Like Titley was training her 100k a week and Kelly is going… Read more »

mike
Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

Thanks Braden for the information, pretty well explained! I just wondered why nothing was mentioned , by her,about Titley. Usually swimmers at least Thank a coach for his time and efforts even thou they may have not been a fit. He was Not mentioned at all. Example as you mention “her technique has deteriorated in Toronto”. I am not certain about Taper, my understanding is that any where from 10 -15 days before the event Taper is started, Not so for distance swimmers, since they may keep the volume up?.& depending on the swimmer? So as you suggest she has plenty of time with a coach she is more comfortable with and has a long history with. My swimming problem… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  mike
9 months ago

She actually did mention Ben when answering our questions. Here was her response:

“Ben and I are great. I’ve been working with him on National teams since 2014 and I am excited to work with him going forward. Training with him full time was a valuable experience and I am beyond thankful for the time, resources and energy that he and the high performance centre staff has put into me. Ben and I came to this decision together that it is best for me to be in Minneapolis for these next 8 weeks leading to trials.”

mike
Reply to  Braden Keith
9 months ago

I missed that and just read it. Thanks, I guess I must have been looking at something else.

Admin
Reply to  mike
9 months ago

Nope, we just added it after you asked 🙂

Johnson
Reply to  STOPTHAT
9 months ago

First off coach Kelly is probably The Best Coach in big tens, so why not.
Him & coach Terry are The quite the silent coaches.
She returned due to the Minnesota Swimming love.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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