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KIERRA SMITH


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Sport: Swimming
Hometown: Kelowna, BC
Nickname: "Smitty"

MY ASTRA STORY

In 2013 I set foot onto the campus of the University of Minnesota as a blue chip recruit.  I was a two time Junior Pan Pacific champion and record holder, 10 time Canadian Age Group Champion and was knocking on the door to making the senior national team.  Everything was looking up until I started to lose my spark.  I was close so many times to being a one-and-done and had my bags packed ready to head home as my times just kept getting slower and slower.  I finished 40th at my first NCAA championships in an event I had expected to win 7 months previous.  Over the summer months I returned to Kelowna and just dug in and worked.  I had gained weight and lost focus and had no confidence.  I made a decision that summer to be coachable and not question the American system anymore and adapt to the rhythms of the NCAA otherwise I knew I would be finished.  Two years later after hitting the reset button I won my first NCAA championship.

WHAT DRIVES ME

What drives me every morning is pure love of the sport.  The scene is similar in pools across the world but its indescribable to me walking into a pool in the early morning hours when normal people are still in their beds and smelling the chlorine.  The walk through the change rooms in to the pool, a quick nod to the lifeguards, seeing my team, my coach….everything about that routine is important to me.  I’ve learned that the process is the fun part of this sport and a tough training set in October will decide if you’re going to see a medal in August.

 HOW YOUR FUNDING WILL HELP

Money is like oxygen to amateur athletes.There’s never enough and extra funding means choosing fresh, organic fruits and vegetables instead of less expensive processed foods.  Extra money means snacking on a smoothie made with the best of the earth ingredients instead of refilling my water bottle. Extra funding means buying a better mattress instead of continuing to use the one from the people who moved out of the apartment next door a year ago.  There are a handful of people on earth who can beat me and they all live far away.  In order to remain competitive I need get on an airplane and book a hotel for 5 days to find tough competition which costs about $1,500 each time.  Extra funding means I can travel to Europe or Asia and race against world record holders and world champions.