TYX7FC Kierra Smith of Canada competes in the Women's 200M Breaststroke forth heat at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium at the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016.  Smith placed first with a time of 2:23.69.  (Photo by Richard Ellis/UPI/Contributed)

Kelowna swimmer headed to Toronto hoping to qualify for Olympics

If she qualifies, it will be Kierra Smith’s second time swimming at the Olympics

Kelowna swimmer Kierra Smith is training for the summer Olympics in Tokyo, set to kick off at the end of July.

But first, she’ll head to Toronto next week for the qualifier, and she’s feeling optimistic.

It’s Smith’s second go at the gold. In 2016, her senior year of college, she qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics. She finished 7th in the 200 brush stroke.

In the 2021 Tokyo summer Olympics, the 27-year-old hopes to swim in the 200 and 100-metre brushstroke. She discovered her love for swimming at a young age, “I was always self-motivated and I’m a very competitive person, so it gave me an outlet for that,” Smith told the Capital News.

Smith is part of the RBC Olympians program, which began in 2002. It’s an initiative that provides elite athletes with an opportunity to gain skills and experience while maintaining a flexible work schedule. The program aims to give athletes the time necessary to train and compete on the world stage.

Through its continued financial support, the program has made it possible for her to continue training. “Their belief in me gives me confidence going into the games,” she explained.

The Kelowna resident has been training with the Kelowna Aquajets and Kelowna Performance Gym for years, with guidance from her coach Emil Dimitrov. You can catch her practicing at Parkinson Recreational Centre.

“It means so much to me to be part of such a supportive community,” she said. “and I really felt that in 2016 when I went to Rio.”

Smith said she has been looking forward to competing. Qualifiers have been delayed three times because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously, it’s tough if you’re worried about whether the games are happening or not, but after a bit, my coaches just directed me to focus on improving, no matter where it happens,” she said.

Smith will compete to qualify for the Olympics in Toronto from June 19-23.

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