4 Reasons to Root for First-Time Olympian Clark Smith

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick


Editorial Coverage Sponsored By FINIS

By SuSu Almousa, Swimming World College Intern

The Olympic Trials can be an incredibly trying meet— some make the prestigious cut, and others fall short. It is a meet filled with opportunity, a meet in which the underdog can touch out a veteran, a meet where legends are born, and futures are paved.

First-time Olympians are beginning their path as world-renowned athletes, and names that are familiar to us in the swim world become publicized even more. In the case of the men’s 4×200 free relay, it seems there is a fresh team headed to Rio– one with a passion to win and a national record to prove it.

Clark Smith, one of 30 first-time Olympians, qualified for Rio with a sixth place finish in the 200-meter freestyle. Here are a few reasons to keep your eyes on Clark Smith. 

1. He trained with the best.


Photo Courtesy: Jack Conger (Facebook)

Some say greatness is a product of genetics, and others say it is a product of hard work. It seems, in the case of Townley Haas, Clark Smith, and Jack Conger, it was a product of osmosis. Something must have been in the water at the University of Texas— a greatness which has clearly diffused into the Longhorn swimmers.

Smith has been training with Olympians for the last three years, so this isn’t new to him. His swimming foundation is sturdy and he is swimming in Rio with the unwavering support of his Longhorn teammates. 

2. It’s in his blood. 


Photo Courtesy: Texas A&M

Clark Smith has swimming in his blood. A rising senior at the University of Texas, Smith has basically been swimming since birth, as both his parents were Longhorn swimmers. His father, John Smith, was an NCAA Champion for the Longhorns and his mother, Tori Trees Smith, was part of the 1984 Olympic Team. Trees-Smith is also a member of the University of Texas’ Hall of Fame. 

3. He has tasted success, and is hungry for more.


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold/Aringo

As a high schooler, Smith was incredibly successful. He was a part of the Junior National Team and came within a fraction of a second of breaking the National High School record in the 100 butterfly. Smith was the No. 1 swimming recruit in the state of Colorado and the No. 7 recruit in the nation.

After recruitment by the University of Texas, he showed promise at the Big-12 Championships as a finalist in the 500-yard freestyle, 200-yard butterfly, and 100-yard butterfly. Smith did not qualify for NCAAs his freshman season, but as a sophomore, Smith won his first NCAA title in the 500-yard freestyle. Smith holds the American record in the 1000-yard free

4. He has tasted defeat.


Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold / Aringo Photos

Unfortunately, Smith’s junior year in college was not as successful as 2015’s season. As the defending NCAA champion, Clark did not final in the 500 free at the 2016 NCAAs. It’s reputed that Smith was ill during the meet, but he was nonetheless disappointed. The taste of defeat seemed to have fed his fire and left him with something to prove this summer. Earning the title “Olympian” must make March’s disappointments feel menial. 

Best of luck in Rio, Clark!

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Jake Oliver
Jake Oliver
7 years ago

Saw him race at high school state in 2013. His 100 fly was the 1st thing I ever saw which represented absolute excellence.

Robert Killeen
Robert Killeen
7 years ago

I expect more from people that read Swimming World. The “trolling” that goes on at that other swim site via anonymity, which censors out most all criticism including that by coaches of the “authors” of the articles that are many times just flat out wrong, is incredibly hurtful to the athletes, many who are young. Unfortunately they read these garbage comments or their friends do and tell them. In my experience those that have nothing nice to say are losers, individuals that have never achieved anything and/or have an agenda. Until you know all the facts, really-just go away. Think about it: Sports Illustrated has the USA men winning two (“2”) individual events at this Olympics and all Cody and “no name” can do is spew negativity. Please get behind the team, go away or identify yourself and tell me how many NCAA wins you have along with American records.

Thomas A. Small
7 years ago
Thomas A. Small
7 years ago


Hector Rivera
Hector Rivera
7 years ago

Congratulations and best of luck!

Jenny Lee
7 years ago

I think these are the BEST reasons to root for Clark – VERY impressive & exciting!!

D A Lonsdale
D A Lonsdale
7 years ago

Reasons #5 & 6. He’s worked his tail off his whole life and he’s a great young man.

7 years ago

All anyone has to do is watch Clark swim and you see how very talented he is.

He will learn a lot during his Olympic experience and swim even better in the years ahead.

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