After starting her swimming career in Kelowna over 10 years ago, 2016 Rio Olympian Kierra Smith returned to the Okanagan to train and prepare after the 2020 Olympics were postponed in March in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A member of the Canadian national team since 2014, the former Kelowna Aquajet has been training hard since her last Olympics in 2016 in Rio (where she placed 7th in the 100-metre breaststroke).
Having to shift her plans due to the pandemic, Smith said, is just another challenge that she, and other Olympians, must overcome.
“Athletes are adaptable by nature,” said Smith.
“It gives up-and-comers a chance to continue to develop, which, big scheme, is very good for our country and teams. There are inevitable ups and downs in any sport, and I think everyone can adapt to it and come out stronger on the other end.”
Coming back to the Okanagan after living her life in Minneapolis and Toronto wasn’t just for the comfort of being at home with family and friends during a global crisis, it was a strategic move to focus on her training by reconnecting with Aquajets coach Emil Dimitrov.
Smith said that she always saw herself training once again in Kelowna and didn’t want to do without her former coach.
“We’ve gone back to the basics,” she said.
“Emil listens and that really helps me develop a cohesive breaststroke. It makes a difference the way people speak to you when you train and luckily for me he’s willing to work with me right now.
“It makes trying to be the best in the world a lot easier.”
Kelowna couple Jim and Kim Rhindress began to work on writing and recording a song of tribute to the world’s health-care heroes in March.
Jim was a surgical nurse for 25 years, spending the last 17 years at the Kelowna General Hospital before a back injury forced him to retire. He still has friends on the floor and who are on the frontlines battling COVID-19.
“Being here at home and hearing from all my friends about what they’re going through, it’s hard,” Jim said.
Kim added, “And of course, watching the news and feeling so incredibly helpless to do anything… all we’re being told to do is sit at home and hunker down and by comparison to them, they’re risking their health.”
Kim said the song was easy to write because it came from a genuine place of gratitude. The couple worked with Vernon videographer C.J. Clayton and released a video in early April.
Since the song’s release, it has been viewed more than 5,000 times on their YouTube page, Smitten Kelowna.