Following Heart Ablation in March, Clark Smith Back to Training

Olympian Clark Smith, who has had recurring Atrial Fibrilation over the past several years, underwent a heart ablation procedure on March 12th. Back in the water now, he told SwimSwam he’ll still skip the Mesa Pro Swim Series stop but plans on returning at the first racing opportunity after Mesa.

Smith’s procedure was a catheter ablation, which is when thin wires are inserted in the neck or groin and then threaded through a vein into the heart. This is part of a process that can stop abnormal heart functions and address larger heart-related issues.

Smith has suffered ongoing heart episodes of late– in December of 2017, an episode lasted nearly a full day, and he had to scratch the rest of the Texas Invite after swimming prelims of the first day. He had another episode during the Atlanta Pro Swim Series, leading him to push the procedure to March after initially planning on having it done in August. After his March 12 procedure, he was back in the water on March 14th and swam easy for a week.

“I’m back 100% now, but I won’t be competing at the Mesa Pro Swim,” said Smith. “I want to get some solid work behind me before my next meet. I don’t know what meet that will be, but I’ll race at the next opportunity after Mesa. I’ll certainly race once or twice before the Santa Clara Pro Swim.”

Smith added that the procedure was minimally-invasive and ‘not stressful.’

A University of Texas alumnus, Smith holds the 1650 free NCAA record (14:22.41) from the 2017 NCAA Championships, a time registered in the fastest and one of the most competitive 1650 races in NCAA Championship history. He also swam prelims of the USA’s gold medal-winning 4×200 free relay in Rio, and picked up a bronze from the heats of Team USA’s 4×200 free relay at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest.

Though he didn’t fly to Minnesota to see the Men’s NCAA Championships, he described the meet as “nearly as stressful watching as a fan.”

“I was sitting in a restaurant with my dad, just refreshing the newsfeed every 10 minutes during the last finals session.  I’m proud they pulled it off.”

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Danjohnrob
3 years ago

Good luck with your recovery, Clark! The US needs you at full strength for the World Championships next year!

ERVINFORTHEWIN
Reply to  Danjohnrob
3 years ago

totally joining that line of heart felt support . U can do it Clark ?

klorn8d
3 years ago

modern medicine is awesome sometimes. had heart surgery and was swimming two days later, thats crazy

Honest observer
3 years ago

Great news. Hopefully this will resolve the issue and he can go on to be the superstar he was always meant to be.

Bevo
3 years ago

Still the NCAA record holder in the 1650 for Texas with an incredible last 100 in 2017.
I forget the split, but the ’18 race was ahead of pace until the last 100…tough, tough, swim in ’17.
Keep up the great work Clark!

Austinpoolboy
Reply to  Bevo
3 years ago

49.20 last 100

AfterShock
3 years ago

So now I know not to come to Swim Swam for medical advice. A catheter is not a wire. It is a tube.

Swimmingabbeys
Reply to  AfterShock
3 years ago

Actually in this case they are wires as it uses electrical impulses.

AfterShock
Reply to  Swimmingabbeys
3 years ago

Actually, in all cases, catheters are tubes. You can, however, pass contrast dye, balloons, stents, wires, etc. through the catheter. If your doctor tries to thread a wire directly through a blood vessel without a catheter, then make sure you reserve a bed in the ICU beforehand.

DMacNCheez
Reply to  AfterShock
3 years ago

Dude, we’re here to read about Clark Smith, not to be hit over the head with your clearly superior intellect

AfterShock
Reply to  DMacNCheez
3 years ago

Then don’t read what I write.

Swimmer
Reply to  AfterShock
3 years ago

If it took this article for you to realise this wasn’t the place for medical advice, I think there might be wider issues to consider…

AfterShock
Reply to  Swimmer
3 years ago

The issue is that you take everything literally.

HappyLeifEriksonDay
3 years ago

Clark practicing again just 2 days after surgery is insane. There’s no way any normal human being should be able to exercise that soon after having heart surgery, although Clark is no normal human being…

sane swim parent
Reply to  HappyLeifEriksonDay
3 years ago

It’s really not invasive. My son had the same procedure at 6. Spent one night in the hospital and was back to normal the next day.

Shouldawouda
Reply to  sane swim parent
3 years ago

This is not open heart, and likely sedation only. It all comes down to the final heart rhythm.

Bevo
Reply to  Shouldawouda
3 years ago

Your usually put under completely and one night stay in the hospital and a week out of the water.

Right Dude Here
Reply to  HappyLeifEriksonDay
3 years ago

A HINGA DINGA DURDEN

AfterShock
Reply to  Right Dude Here
3 years ago

That’s HINGA DINGA DURGEN, DUDE.

M Palota
3 years ago

I have a serious question. I’m not sure this is the forum but, what the hell, I’ll ask anyway: Is it possible that taking the banned substance, meldonium, would protect athletes against these kinds of heart issues?

Clark Smith, Kyle Chalmers, Jack Cartwright; all these young men have the same sort of issues with their heart and I know a few guys who are now in their mid-40’s to late-50’s who have a similar condition. According to the guys I’ve spoken, they’re telling me its an exercise induced condition. They all were elite athletes through their early teens and into their 20’s, participating in sports that had a heavy aerobic training component. Their doctors told them that sort of training… Read more »

Just Sayin
Reply to  M Palota
3 years ago

I would hesitate to say exercise causes these conditions. I would guess most of the Time these conditions have existed in people who have then and only get noticed when exercising intensely. One not a doctor but that’d be my logical guess. As for using the medications to prevent these conditions I would compare it to taking adderal to prevent ADHD. It’s not necessary unless you have a diagnosed disease taking it to “prevent disease” is just an excuse to cheat imo.

mikeh
3 years ago

Wonderful news, so glad he is healthy, and continuing with his career.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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