Regan Smith shares her 'crazy year' in lead-up to Olympics

Jun 15, 2021; Omaha, Nebraska, USA; Regan Smith celebrates after winning the Women's 100 Backstroke Medal Ceremony during the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Swimming competition at CHI Health Center Omaha. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports (Usa Today, Rob Schumacher)

Most 17-year-olds are busy with schoolwork, social events, maybe a part-time job and defying their parents on occasion. But for Regan Smith, her senior year of high school consisted of swim, school, more swim, homework and eventually sleep.

For Smith, it was worth it. The endless hard work led her to the 2019 World Championships, where she broke Missy Franklin’s 200m backstroke world record. Her packed schedule and diligence earned her a spot on the Stanford University swim team.

All the sacrifices and the loss of regular life as a teenager were just fine. Things were going great for Smith ….  

You probably know what came next.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit. Lockdown began. The Tokyo Olympics were postponed.

And suddenly, Smith, like so many others, was at a loss. The lack of direction and stability prompted her to defer her Stanford acceptance. Instead of sunshine and beaches, Smith endured another year of Minnesota snow.

But it wasn’t all bad. Smith spent more time with her parents and trained with the coach and teammates with whom she grew up. In her free time, she scrolled Tiktok, a bottomless abyss of trendy dances, life-hacks, and quick entertainment. 

With fewer academic and swim obligations, Smith got a taste of the normal teenaged life that she gave up for swim.

Now, Smith, 19, is ready to take on the Olympics, which slipped from her grasp over a year ago. Despite an unconventional route, she is eagerly awaiting that first dive into the Olympic pool.

Smith took NBC Olympics on a guided tour of her 19th year as she prepares to finally make her mark on the Olympic stage.