Olympics: Lakeville’s Regan Smith wins silver in 200 butterfly

Olympics: Lakeville’s Regan Smith wins silver in 200 butterfly

Two events, two medals. Lakeville swimming phenom Regan Smith is making her presence felt at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Smith backed up winning bronze in the 100-meter backstroke, her forté, this week by winning silver in the 200-meter butterfly in Tokyo on Thursday morning — Wednesday evening back in the States — with a time of 2 minutes, 5.3 seconds.

“She’s always been a great butterflier,” said Smith’s coach with Riptide Swim Club in Apple Valley, Mike Parratto. “We’ve been chasing that time, that swim, for a long time.”

Smith finished nearly a second and a half behind China’s Zhang Yufei, the gold medal winner.

Regan Smith of the United States celebrates her second place finish in the women’s 200-meter butterfly final at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

In the final 50 meters, it truly was a race for silver between Smith and teammate Hayley Flickinger. It was Smith who closed the deal down the stretch, charging past Flickinger to out-touch her at the wall. Without looking at the exact time, Parratto assumed that was her best final 50 split ever in the event.

It was the first time Smith has ever beaten Flickinger in the event.

Medaling in both of her individual events is a remarkable achievement for the 2020 Lakeville North grad, whose training volume was reduced by 65 percent when the pandemic hit. That stunted all of her momentum generated in the previous two years, when she set a world record in the 100 backstroke.

But Smith refused to let the pause prevent her from reaching goals. She rebuilt herself in the pool, qualifying for two events and medaling in both.

Her time in the 200-butterfly final was a full second faster than her previous best time in the event, set pre-pandemic early in 2020.

Parratto, watching from home in the South Metro, knew Smith was about to do something special in the final when he saw the game face she was sporting on television in the time leading up to the swim.

“She had this little stare going on,” he said. “I’m like, ‘OK, something is going to happen.’ ”

He also got great joy in seeing the massive smile on Smith’s face after seeing her time post-race.

Parratto noted that Smith didn’t quite have the start she would have wanted in the 100 backstroke final, and that Smith and the top two finishers in the event — Australia’s Kaylee McKeown and Canada’s Kylie Masse — could swim that event countless times and split victories evenly.

Other than that, Smith’s swims have been sublime.

The 200 butterfly wrapped her individual schedule for the Olympics, but she is likely not done yet. Smith will presumably swim the backstroke for the United States in the 4×100-meter medley relay Sunday morning, Saturday evening in the States, likely for another medal.

She also could be a part of the United States’ 4×100 mixed medley relay team. The final for that event is Friday night Central time.

“There is still a lot of the week to go here,” Parratto said. “A lot of things going on.”

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