A Canton native is considered one of the best female middle distance freestyle swimmers in the country and she is focused on bringing home Olympic gold from the summer games in London.
Allison Schmitt, 22, is swimming in the Olympics for the second time. Schmitt won a bronze medal in the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing with the women's 800m freestyle relay. In London, she will compete in four events; the 400m freestyle, 200m freestyle, the 400m freestyle relay and the 800m freestyle relay.
"I'm super excited for it. To be able to represent the U.S. in one Olympics and now two, it's an honor and I'm just taking in every moment," said Schmitt at the Olympic swim camp in Knoxville, Tn.
Schmitt grew up in Canton. She has spent the last year in Baltimore training under former University of Michigan coach Bob Bowman and alongside Michael Phelps.
Schmitt made a big splash during the Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb. by winning the women's 400m freestyle and the women's 200m freestyle races. In the 200m race, she set a new American record.
"She's moved up there. She has kind of quietly moved up, which I like," said Bowman. "She has been under the radar for most of the year."
Schmitt, Phelps learn from each other
In addition to Bowman, Schmitt is also learning from 16-time Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps. The two have a close relationship, in fact, Schmitt said Phelps is like a brother to her.
"He means a lot to me, and he's always been there, he'll always drop anything, help me out," said Schmitt. "This past year, Michael has helped me learn how to focus more and set goals for myself, and focus in on those goals."
The two can also be seen having a good time poolside.
"We have fun together, and joke around all the time, so, but at the same time he'll be there if I need help with something or if I want him to look at my strokes, he'll be there for me," said Schmitt.
The Canton swimmer is not just learning from Phelps, she is helping him too.
"I try and keep him calm, keep him not so intense. Sometimes he'll get worked up a little bit or get really focused in and I just think that we balance each other out. He's very focused, very goal-oriented and always likes to get stuff done in a schedule and I'm more of a spontaneous person, always laughing, never taking much too serious, so I think we've helped balance each other out," said Schmitt.
Their coach agrees.
"I think Allison helps to lighten up Michael a little bit, and he helps to make her more serious, which is the two things that each of them need," said Bowman.
Schmitt begins competing on Saturday July 28 and if she makes the finals of each of her events she will swim every day from Saturday until Wednesday.
"I'll go race by race and keep each goal in mind throughout the races, but the night before, the day before each race, I'll change my focus and my events actually change everyday so I'll have to change up focus pretty quickly but I'm ready for it, I'm excited," said Schmitt.
Schmitt has proud family supporting her in Michigan
Ralph and Gail Schmitt are also very excited and very proud of their daughter.
"You just have this awesome feeling, that 'Wow, how did this kid do this?'" said Gail Schmitt.
"I only realized she was an Olympic swimmer, when she did it, when she actually made the team," said Ralph Schmitt.
Schmitt looks for her parents in the crowd every time she competes. They describe what it's like to be the parents watching from the stands.
"I always look for her to wave to me, she always waves" said Ralph Schmitt.
Gail said they are always nervous for her, and hope she does her best whatever that will be.
"I usually say, you know, a few prayers, before, it starts, you know, for her to do her best," said Gail Schmitt.
Schmitt is known for her positive attitude and for providing a little comic relief outside the pool.
"I want to keep a positive outlook and that's how I've grown up. My family always taught me to be positive. I'm a middle child of five so there's always a lot of us in the house, so you've got to kind of do something to stand out," said Schmitt.
The Canton swimmer misses the family of five and her hometown.
"She's really a homebody," said Gail Schmitt. "She is not home much, but she really likes to be home."
"At one point, somebody asked her what her favorite place was, what her favorite place around the world was, and she said 'Canton,'" said Ralph Schmitt.
Schmitt's entire family is flying to London so she can see them in the stands before she competes.
She said it means the world to her to have the support from family and friends back home.
"I'm always a Michigan girl, always will be a Michigan girl, and I'm grateful to be able to have a strong support system," said Schmitt.
Schmitt hopes to spend a couple days at home after the Olympics before returning to the University of Georgia.
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