Lakeville’s Regan Smith wins Olympic bronze in 100-meter backstroke

Lakeville’s Regan Smith is officially an Olympic medalist.

Smith placed third in the 100-meter backstroke Tuesday morning in Tokyo — Monday evening in the U.S. — with a time of 58.05 seconds to claim the 19-year-old’s first medal.

Australia’s Kaylee McKeown won the race with a time of 57.47 seconds, with Canada’s Kylie Massie coming in second.

Smith set three records in the 2019 world championships, thrusting herself into the global spotlight. She was set to shine at the Tokyo Games in 2020, had they taken place in 2020. But the pandemic-forced delay wreaked havoc on her training.

Last fall, Smith would choose butterfly over backstroke, because her go-to stroke just didn’t feel right. Her times weren’t great — not Regan Smith great, anyway. Meet result after meet result showed Smith simply wasn’t where she’d previously been.

Her coach, Mike Parratto, had Smith go back to the basics to re-find confidence in her strokes and rebuild her confidence. Smith kept working, and the results continued to improve. She started to look like her old self in the pool again, working her ways to the point where she reached an Olympic podium.

The 2020 Lakeville North grad continues to shine when the lights are brightest, regardless of circumstances.

Smith’s Olympics will continue with the 200 butterfly preliminaries at 5:30 a.m. Central time Tuesday, with the semifinals to follow in the evening. She will also, presumably, perform the backstroke in the 4×100 meter medley relay later this week.

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