Smith in top-five of three events at U.S. swim nationals

Kieran Smith competes in the 200-meter freestyle at the Phillips 66 National Championships.

Kieran Smith competes in the 200-meter freestyle at the Phillips 66 National Championships.

Lachlan Cunningham / Getty Images

For Kieran Smith, summer is a time to speed up rather than slow down.

Coming off an impressive freshman season at the University of Florida, Smith continued his momentum with three top-five finishes at the USA Swimming National Championships last week in Stanford, Calif.

Smith, a 2018 Ridgefield High graduate, finished second in the 200-meter freestyle, fourth in the 400-meter individual medley, and tied for fifth in the 200-meter individual medley. He also placed 11th in the 100 freestyle.

Smith bettered the qualifying times for the 2020 U.S. Olympic trials in all four events.

Seeded 10th in the 200 freestyle, Smith dropped 1.51 seconds to swim the fastest time (1:46.21) in the prelimaries. That is also the top time for an American swimmer this year.

Although he was just slightly slower in the finals (1:46.25), Smith finished second to Elijah Winnington of Australia, who won the race in 1:46.19.

“During the final of the 200 free my main goal was to race the field the best I could,” Smith said. “I swam a pretty gutsy race as two other Americans started off more aggressively than me, and I did everything I could to maintain contact with them. I was really happy to be able to pass them in the final 50 meters. Of course I would’ve liked to be able to call myself a national champion, but I was content with a second-place finish.”

Smith, who had placed in the top eight in both the 200 and 400 individual medleys at this year’s NCAA championships, dropped more than two seconds off his seed time in 400 IM final. He moved from sixth place to fourth by posting the second-best split in the freestyle portion of the race and finishing in a time of 4:15.17.

In the 200 IM, Smith had the lead after the butterfly leg before finishing in a tie for fifth place with a time of 2:00.14, which was .52 seconds faster than his seed time.

“My 400 IM was a two-second best time, but I felt that I could’ve been faster if I swam the race smarter,” Smith said. “My 200 IM was a bit slower than I was expecting, but I was recovering from an illness so I’ll cut myself some slack.”

Smith missed qualifying for the A final in the 100 freestyle by 0.04 seconds. He then finished third in the B final and 11th overall with a time of 49.11.

“My goals for each event were in line with one another: achieve personal-best times and place as high as I could among the Americans at the meet,” Smith said. “My 200 freestyle training had been the best throughout the season so I knew I had the potential to place quite high in that event.

“The heavy race load was challenging,” Smith added, “but I was training all season to race well while tired.”

Smith will now turn his attention to his sophomore season at Florida.

“This year at UF, I want to emerge as a top U.S. contender for the Olympic team in multiple events,” Smith said. “And I think that will start with a breakout performance at the NCAA championships.”