While it’s easy to say Regan Smith made a huge impression in 2017 -- and it would be true -- a lot of learning and hard work took place for her to reach new heights. And while her experience at Worlds in Hungary was amazing, she says her experience at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Indianapolis was also incredible. In this second of two parts, Regan talks about the importance of having solid foundations -- and what she is doing with those moving forward, in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1. You mentioned last week some amazing teammates in Hungary, what was it like meeting Lilly King and being her teammate?
Regan: Lilly was such a big sister to me and Dakota. She was so great. She is so funny! She really eases your nerves. We were able to see how she handles herself around race time, so calm and collected. But outside of that, she can be so goofy and fun. It was really cool . I loved her so much. She was so different than I thought she was going to be. It was really cool just to get to know her and for her to relate to us so well.
2. Your Olympic Trials experience the previous year -- being so young, what did you take from that?
Regan: I absolutely took so much from Olympic Trials. Going into it, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have experience like that going into it. I was so in over my head. I didn’t perform the way I wanted to but looking back, it’s okay because it helped me in the long term. It helped me more than anything to get me through 2017, though at the time it was hard to go through that meet.
3. So making Worlds in your second big U.S. trials meet and everything that happened in ‘17 wasn’t a surprise?
Regan: Oh my gosh, I definitely didn’t think that! But I do think I really improved my confidence over the past year. Going to big meets, the TYR Pro Swims, Speedo Sectionals or Speedo Junior Nationals -- I felt before Olympic Trials that I didn’t really belong there -- that I shouldn’t be there. And I felt that way at Olympic Trials. After not making Junior Pan Pacs I thought, “I am going to turn it around. This is the day it all starts. I’m going to fix my training, and work on my confidence.” I performed well and carried it with me into the next summer (2017), and I still carry it with me. I’m still conscious of what it takes, and to stay confident, and I constantly keep that in mind.
4. How were ‘17 World team trials different from Olympic Trials in ‘16?
Regan: I had so much fun there. Most of that is, that on my team, I am the only one who goes to Junior or National meets in the past. So when I first started going to National meets, I never knew anyone -- I had never been on a Junior Team trip, so I sat by myself and did my own thing. Then, at World (trials) I knew a lot of people, and I had a blast with my new friends and catching up with all of them. I think that helped my confidence a little bit -- the feeling of fitting in and knowing people.
5. You mentioned last week the feeling of finaling at Worlds and how that was a big step -- did you leave Budapest satisfied with your progress?
Regan: Leaving Worlds, I was slightly disappointed. I was bummed about getting 8th in the final because I felt I let Team USA down. I felt really bad about it. So I just thought, “I’m going to come back and perform even better at Junior Worlds.”
6. You had a good Junior Worlds -- how did you keep your taper so long
Regan: We upped my yards and worked hard and then got it back down before Junior Worlds. I was so excited to swim in Indianapolis in one of my favorite pools and have all my friends there on the team.
7. How big are your awesome parents in this success?
Regan: They do so much for me and sacrifice so much for me. Getting me to practice, making my food for me, coming to my meets, missing work for me. Always being there and being supportive. They didn’t swim growing up, so they have started from scratch in the sport. It’s cool to see how much they have invested in supporting me and how much they love the sport. I also have siblings and step siblings who played a lot of other sports and are very supportive of me.
8. How did you keep that focus for Junior Worlds?
Regan: I think it’s because I was so motivated. I was hungry because I felt I could’ve done better at Worlds. I had a couple of swims of a lifetime in Budapest -- for me at least. And those are amazing swims. But I remember coming out of the final and thinking, “That’s not enough for me. I want more out of this summer.” So I had to stay fresh. I was a little tired when I got back but knew I would do this for a couple of more months. I remembered why I was doing it, and how much I love swimming. And getting to see my friends on the team in Indianapolis was incredible -- everyone was so hyped in the team area. That got me even more motivated.
9. You got to know a lot more people on the Junior Team?
Regan: Yes and it was so fun. I had a few friends from World Cup trips in 2016 and Junior Team camps and seeing people at meets. But it was so fun getting to know the other girls. No drama, all bonding. We all just connected immediately. I loved that trip so much.
10. How did the blended training with boys and girls work out?
Regan: It for sure was a great choice. (Junior Team Director) Mitch (Dalton) did an amazing job like he always does, and he always makes it so much fun for us, too. He is such a good leader. He has fun with us and we’re all goofy together as a team. That atmosphere helps us perform well.
11. Broken records -- although you did that in Budapest, too -- and medals in Indy, you were just outstanding, what was that like?
Regan: First of all, thank you. I was really pleased with how I did. Honestly, I don’t think I could have given it more than I did. It was tough -- hard to do semifinals (laughs) again! But a great experience and worth it. I was so grateful to do so many races. It was a really great meet. They put on an incredible event. It was super cool.
12. For whatever reason, those meets in Indy are just so well done, aren’t they?
Regan: It really was done well. And I think that really helps with the performance. Having it in Indy was great -- having it on home soil for us. They did a really good job decorating, which is really cool when you walk in and can look around and be so inspired and excited.
13. What country you saw at Worlds in Budapest was swimming well or who caught your attention?
Regan: I saw definitely more than one. I didn’t realize Hungary had as many great swimmers as they do. I knew they had Katinka, who is of course incredible. But they have tons of others. And obviously, Australia is doing really well in everything. Great Britain and Canada are doing well for sure. That stood out.
14. What about at Junior Worlds?
Regan: At Junior Worlds, it was a lot of Canada, they brought their best girls and guys, and Japan obviously has some really good girls. Great Britain again, too. There were a lot of really strong countries. I raced a lot of fast people whose names I had never seen before, which is really exciting to see so many countries doing so well.
15. I heard at Junior Worlds you all met kids from the other countries, what was that like?
Regan: I did make some new friends from different countries which is cool. It was something that really amazes, how other countries learn English at school back home and know our language at a young age in life. That’s impressive because I can’t do that with their languages! I am taking Spanish though, and foreign language is something that interests me now more than ever. I’ve Snapchatted with a girl from Turkey I met at Junior Worlds and having that look into her life is just amazing.
16. What did you learn about her?
Regan: Just like how she goes through her daily routines -- some things very different than what we do, but yet some things very similar. It’s just kind of cool to see little things about her daily life and how it’s either something I can relate to or something different that I can learn about her life, her country and the culture.
17. I played hockey in Minnesota but being a Texan now I miss the weather and playing on lakes -- how is it as a swimmer, having a pretty chilly and long winter?
Regan: I don’t (laughs) enjoy it! I really don’t! I have a hard time whenever it gets cold here. Our pool struggles to get to the warm temps -- it’s something where something doesn’t click in and the pool just doesn’t raise its heat. So especially when it first gets cold, or when it gets really cold, it can be (laughs) a bit miserable.
18. But for outdoor lifestyles, especially in summers, Minnesota is pretty hard to beat, isn’t it?
Regan: It’s a fun state. It really is. I love it here in the summer, it’s super nice. It’s super humid but I deal with that. I like going to the lake, going tubing and everything. I tried water-skiing last summer.
19. You’re a long way off from choosing a college yet, do you already think about it or are you letting yourself enjoy the amazing ride the past year and all that’s ahead of you in ‘18?
Regan: I’m not yet able to be contacted this school year so I try not to think about it yet. But it is cool that I might have an opportunity. I have been learning about the schools a little bit, and have looked up information on a couple I am thinking about in the future. I had thought most colleges were alike, but the more I research and learn about them, I see a lot of differences, and that’s really exciting.
20. So you come off of Olympic Trials having learned a lot, but what did you learn this time around, making the World and World Junior teams, and setting records and winning medals at big meets?
Regan: I definitely learned a lot about myself in this past year. I go back to the confidence building as a big thing because I gained a lot of confidence. I also learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and how to build on my strengths and work on my weaknesses. I think when you perform better, the big things you learn are even more ways to improve. It’s been (laughs) crazier than I thought, but it’s been a lot of fun.