Meet Clark Smith, who will be competing at his first Olympic Games. A soon-to-be senior with the Texas Longhorns swimming & diving program, Smith is a mid-distance/distance free specialist. In the video below, he talks about how his first age group coach was Todd Schmitz, Missy Franklin’s coach at the Colorado Stars. He recalls when he was learning how to swim and refused to get into the pool without his water wings. Smith will swim on the men’s 4×200 free relay in Rio.
From his SwimSwam bio:
Clark Smith is a 6’9″ freestyle and butterfly specialist and student-athlete at the University of Texas. Born April 17, 1995 in Atlanta, Ga., Smith had the ability to be a great swimmer within his genes – his parents, John and Tori, also swam for Texas and his mother was a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team. Smith came within .04 seconds of breaking the National High School record in the 100 butterfly, an event he was on the USA Swimming Junior National Team for. He spent his teenage years at Regis Jesuit in Denver, Colo., where he was ranked the number one prospect in the state and the seventh-ranked recruit in the country.
University of Texas
In his freshman season Smith swam at the Big 12 Championships, placing fourth in the 500-yard freestyle, fourth in the 200-yard butterfly and sixth in the 100-yard butterfly.
Smith has had great swims his sophomore season, and won the 200-yard butterfly at the dual meet against Texas A&M. He went best times in the 200-yard butterfly, 200, 500 and 1000-yard freestyles in mid-season, qualifying him for the NCAA Championships. After not qualifying for nationals his freshman year, Smith had a dominant sophomore season, and helped his team win the Division I National Championship.
The 500-yard free was Smith’s first event at NCAA’s, and he immediately made a statement. Smith qualified for the championship final first coming out of the preliminary heats. In the final, Smith took out the first 200 yards in 1:38.02, a quick 200-yard free time in itself, and he held on until Florida’s Dan Wallace took over the lead at the 350-yard mark. But it was Smith’s last 50 yards that pulled him away — he out-split Wallace 24.03 to 25.28 to win his first national championship.
Smith then took on the 200-yard free — he qualified for the semi-final, and finished 11th overall just 0.41 seconds behind the heat’s winer. On the same night Smith led off the 800-yard free relay for Texas that took 8th. For his final individual event of the meet Smith took on the 200-yard fly, an event that was largely expected to be won by Texas. Three Texas athletes qualified for the championship final in the 200-yard fly, including Smith. Texas went 1-2 in the event, but Smith unfortunately was disqualified for a one-hand touch in the championship final of the event.
At the Big 12 Championships Clark won the 1,650 in a new school and Big 12 record of 14:31.29. He also was a member of the Texas 800 yard freestyle relay that took gold and finished 4th in the 500 yard freestyle. At the NCAA meet, Clark didn’t enjoy the same success as his sophomore year. As the defending champion and top seed in the 500 yard freestyle, Clark didn’t manage to reach the finals, finishing 21st in the prelims. He was also the top seed in the mile but finished 12th in the prelims.
2016 U.S Olympic Trials
Clark qualified for his first Olympic Games with a 6th place finish in the 200 meter freestyle, earning him a spot on the relay in Rio. Half of the top six in the event came from University of Texas: Clark, gold medalist Townley Haas and bronze medalist Jack Conger.