Kelowna's Kierra Smith won gold at the NCAA swimming championships in North Carolina.

NCAA gold for Kierra Smith

Kelowna swimmer wins biggest title yet, taking first in 200 yard breaststroke at national championships

It was another watermark moment for Kierra Smith.

The 21-year-old Kelowna swimmer blew away the field to win the gold medal Saturday in the women’s 200 yard breastroke at the NCAA swimming championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.

A junior with the University of Minnesota Gophers, Smith won in a time of 2:04.56, 2.09 seconds ahead of her next competitor and the third fastest time ever in NCAA history.

“I felt like the way I had been swimming that I could do it,” Smith said. “I really wanted to win the NCAAs, that was a goal of mine this year. I just thought it would be a bit closer, but believe me it’s OK that it wasn’t.”

Not surprisingly, Smith’s coach back in Kelowna was thrilled with the outcome.

“It was a fantastic swim,” said Liquid Lightning Swim Club coach Emil Dimitrov. “There were a lot of great swimmers competing, so I enjoyed seeing her win gold. She deserved it.”

Smith was coming off her best year in the pool yet. Swimming for Canada at the Commonwealth Games last summer in Scotland, she finished fourth in the 200 breaststroke.

Then at the FINA world short course championships in December in Qatar, she placed fourth again, narrowly missing the bronze medal.

Smith, who is home in Kelowna this week, will next head to Toronto April 1 to 4 for the Canadian trials.

For a more in-depth look at Smith and her gold medal win, see Wednesday’s issue of the Capital News.