Author Eney Jones takes us up-close and personal with Tori Trees Smith and John Smith, parents of Olympic athlete Clark Smith
How do you remain a fan, a parent, a support system and a
friend to your child?
We know how much hard work goes into everyday for Clark. He is extraordinarily disciplined and focused. Swimming was our life for so long so it seems natural to watch his progression from age grouper thru college. We lived a portion of his life and feel connected because of it. Not as many parents feel the pain we do when their kid is fighting through the last 50 yards. Win or lose we remember those feelings first hand
What do you hope your kids take away from swimming?
Each of our kids grew up swimming competitively. They all know the meaning of hard work through swimming. But they have made life long friends through the years as well. In the end it’s a lifestyle that we share with each of them.
Both you and Tori had successful swimming careers. Was that a help or a hindrance in deciding when to step in and when to pull back?
After Clark was 12 we never talked deeply about our old careers and making comparisons along the way. We felt it was just too much pressure. At the Olympic Trials, he knew what his mother had done in the 200 m backstroke from Lane 8 all those years ago. He knew his dad swam in the same pool everyday for the same coach in Austin. Clark made his own path. Being a parent in the stands watching your kid race is one thing, but being an ex-swimmer is something additional. It is a gift of knowledge that non swimming parents don’t have, but it’s also a curse as well. You see every stroke technique correction and feel the changes in speed and nuances of the race. You know exactly what’s going on and how it is going to unfold. You can feel it. Yet you need to pull back and let the coach coach. It’s hard to do no doubt about it. You want to help but in the end you complicate things if you coach your kids in parallel. You have to force yourself to pull back. Fortunately Clark had a wonderful age group coach growing up in Denver, Nick Frasersmith. With Eddie Reese it is easy to let go. He is literally the greatest swim coach in United States Swimming. More importantly Eddie is just a great guy that cares about your kid.
What gives you both strength and how do you pass that
Watching our kids succeed is what it is all about for us. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. But we get there in the end- together. Thursday night, Tori and I and the whole family watched Clark win the 500 freestyle,(in 4:08.42), we shared that moment in the stands. Smiling. Crying. We were all proud of him. We know the work he has done and it is nice to see hard work win. As Clark stood on the podium later that night, my wife’s name Tori Trees was on the Wall of Olympians behind him. It just felt good
About Eney Jones
- Eney Jones has achieved remarkably diverse success as a leading pool, open water and Ironman triathlon swimmer, and is also a yoga instructor.
- Masters National Champion 100-200-400-500-1500-1650 5k freestyle 2009
- Open Water 5k Champion Perth Australia, May 2008.
- National Masters Champion 200-400-1500 freestyle Champion, Portland Oregon, August, 2008.
- Overall Champion Aumakua 2.4k Maui Hawaii, September 2008
- Waikiki Rough Water Swim 3rd place 2006, second place Overall 2009, 3rd place 2012
- European Record Holder and Masters Swimming Champion, 2005. Records included 200, 400, 800, 1500 m freestyle
- Over twenty time finalist in U.S. Swimming Nationals, including Olympic Trials 1980
- Gold medal NCAA 800 yd freestyle relay 1979, silver Medalist 200 yd freestyle 1979. United States National Team 1979-1980.
- Professional Triathlete 1983-1991. First woman out of the water in every Hawaiian Ironman participated (6).