Kieran Smith once again showed the world why he is regarded as one of the best swimmers heading to the Tokyo Olympics. He won yet another gold medal at the ongoing US Olympic Swimming Trials. The Florida man had already clinched the top spot for the 400m freestyle and backed it up with a 200m freestyle win on day 3.
The first two 50s had looked like a three-man race, with Kieran Smith, Townley Haas and Zach Apple pulling clear from the rest of the field in the men’s 200m free final. Fatigue kicked in for Zach Apple in the third 50m with Smith and Haas creating some separation, and the final 50 continued to be a two-way battle for the gold medal.
Kieran Smith widened the lead in the final 50m stretch and secured the win with a time of 1:45.29 - his personal best. The win helped him win a second ticket for an individual event at the Tokyo Olympics after winning the 400m free on day 1 of wave 2.
Who is Kieran Smith?
The 21-year-old American was expected to be one of the stars of the US Olympic Swimming Trials 2021 and his dominant finals will give the US team a lot of hope. If Caeleb Dressel is the new Michael Phelps, Kieran Smith certainly has the potential to be more than the new Ryan Lochte.
In fact, big things were always expected out of Kieran Smith. He came out of high school as a 2-time NISCA All-American and a member of the National Jr. team in 2017. The world got the first glimpse of his potential when he won silver in the 200m Individual Medley at the 2017 World Jr Championships.
Kieran Smith went on to join the University of Florida and has been their leader since. He is the first Gator to qualify for the Olympics and now looks to be in contention to win multiple medals in Tokyo. His freestyle speed and his versatility in Individual Medley means he will be a weapon for the US Olympic team. With the shorter events ruled by Caeleb Dressel, the 200m and 400m events will be where Kieran Smith looks to stamp his authority.
Double gold prospects
Kieran Smith joins the elite club of US swimmers who will now be expected to win more than one gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Katie Ledecky, Caeleb Dressel and Simone Manuel have all long been expected to make Tokyo their favorite hunting ground, but Kieran Smith's unexpected rise to stardom will be a blessing for the US team.
Kyle Chalmers, Alexander Graham, Zac Incerti and co. are unlikely to make it an easy swim for Kieran Smith, but US Swimming's new hope certainly has it in him to pull off a multiple gold medal winning campaign.
Kieran Smith's time of 1:45.29 is still far away from Michael Phelps' 1:42.96 set in 2008 but there is no swimmer in the current international circuit heading to Tokyo with similar prowess to give the American team any headaches.
The Florida swimmer was bullish about his team's chance to win the 4×200m gold medal in Tokyo. Addressing the press, he said the US should be “all set” to contend for a gold medal.
Men's 200m freestyle results
- Kieran Smith (FLOR), 1:45.29
- Townley Haas (NOVA), 1:45
- Drew Kibler (TXLA), 1:45.92 (relay)
- Andrew Seliskar (CAL), 1:46.34 (relay)
- Zach Apple (MVN), 1:46.45
- Patrick Callan (UN-MI), 1:46.49
Note: All the swimmers easily pass the FINAL ‘A’ cut of 1:47.02