What’s it like to be only 14-years-old and already one of the best backstrokers in the world? For Regan Smith of Riptide Swim Team in Apple Valley, MN, it’s just a stepping stone.
If you haven’t heard of Regan Smith by now, it’s time to start paying attention. At only 14-years-old, Smith traveled to Tokyo and Hong Kong to compete in the FINA World Cup alongside the best swimmers in the world. The youngest member of the National Junior Team, Smith’s youth and inexperience on the international stage took a backseat to her tenacity and raw talent in the pool.
Smith swam alongside titans including Katinka Hosszu and Emily Seebohm, racing each of them eight times between the two competitions. Though Hosszu and Seebohm got the better of Smith this time, she held her own and remained steady with her times. Already a NAG record-holder in the 13-14 age group after taking down Missy Franklin‘s 100 LCM backstroke record (tied once, broke twice), Smith’s upward trajectory heightens with each major competition.
At the World Cup Smith became the 11th-fastest American female in history in both the 100 (58.13) and 200 (2:04.77) SCM backstroke races, despite not resting whatsoever. “She’ll rest on the plane!” said her coach, Mike Parratto, the week before the competition in Tokyo. Well, the results speak for themselves. At the time of this writing, Smith is ranked 6th in the world in the 200 SCM backstroke and is tied for 16th in the 100 SCM backstroke. Similar to Missy Franklin in the 2009 & 2011 Duel in the Pool and 2011 FINA World Championships, Smith has gotten a taste of international competition that could aid in sling-shotting her into the spotlight in 2020 when the world turns its attention to Tokyo.
Next month Smith will compete in the Speedo Junior National Championships where she will swim an impressive lineup. Though she is focused on breaking more NAG records in the 13-14 age group, she will not fully taper until the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships, where she aspires to earn a spot on the 2017 Junior World Championship Team.
Here, Smith talks about her experience at the World Cup: