PHOENIX, Arizona, March 25. THOMAS Smith needed to take some time off. The 15-year-old Irvine, California-based AquaZot swimmer has weathered a rough couple of years. He overcame lymphoma as a 12-year-old, but Smith continues to live with bone cancer slowly growing in his knee.
Unsurprisingly, Smith felt confused about his desire to continue swimming. So, in the fall of 2012, he took some personal time away from the sport. He began to visit a sports psychologist, eventually deciding to return to the pool in December 2012 to prepare for the College Station Speedo Sectional Championships in February. Going into the meet, he had no expectations. The high school student ended up surprising himself.
Smith came out of the meet with a number one time in the nation among 15-year-olds in the 200 yard backstroke. His 1:46.18 was nearly two seconds under the US Open cut and a personal best by over three seconds. He also snagged a pair of top-ten times at the meet, in the 200 freestyle and 200 IM.
Smith's ongoing journey, in and out of the pool, was featured in a two-page article in the January 2013 issue of Swimming World Magazine:
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In December 2009, Thomas, along with AquaZot teammates Ken Takahashi, Justin Hanson and Matthew Wong, set an 11-12 National Age Group record in the 400 medley relay (3:53.04) at the California Winter Age Group Swim Championships.
In December 2011, 15 days after he was diagnosed with cancer, he helped set a 13-14 NAG in the 400 medley relay (3:29.45), with Tyler Lin, Justin Hanson and Matthew Wong at the Speedo Championship Winter Sectionals. It was the first time a 13-14 age group medley relay has broken the 3:30 mark.