Updated: June 16, 2021 07:02 PM
Created: June 16, 2021 04:51 PM
Nineteen-year-old Regan Smith has trained for this moment for years.
At the Olympic trials Tuesday night in Omaha, she hit the wall first in the 100 backstroke, a finish that will take her to Tokyo.
"I could see girls on both sides of me, and I knew I had to get my hand on that wall as fast as I could, and I'm just so happy. Oh, that was a lot, so I am just very happy," Smith said in an interview following her race.
Coach Mike Parratto watched in awe.
"I know that’s a lifelong dream for her, she’s been an outstanding swimmer her entire life as an age-group swimmer," Parratto said.
He says Smith started with Riptide Swim Team in Apple Valley in 2015 when she was 13 years old. Since then she's won world championships and set world records at swimming events around the world.
"It’s very gratifying to see someone who is very dedicated, who has a high desire to be as good as she can be," her coach said.
Smith qualified to compete in eight events at the Olympic trials, but opted for four. She will compete in two more events, the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly, later this week.
A busy week for this young athlete, but also this coach who just watched his daughter, Jessica Parratto, make the U.S. Olympic diving team last Friday.
"Sometimes it’s hard to put it into words how it all feels to witness those things both as a dad and as a coach," Parratto said.
"Right after Jessica qualified for the Olympic team, about five minutes later she said, 'Tell Regan she’s next,' and I thought that was really great," Parratto said.
After the trials, Smith will head to training camp in Hawaii. The Olympics begin at the end of July, with swimming events expected to take place that first week of worldwide competition.
And you can bet young swimmers here in Minnesota will be watching Smith and cheering her on.
"It’s amazingly motivating for people, especially when it’s a local swimmer that’s in your area, or in your state," Parratto said. "I believe it just proves that if you have the ability and you have a desire and you’re willing to work hard, you can make these kinds of levels."
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