Day or night, the Olympic swimming trials are always on Regan Smith's mind. With the meet only one month away, her life is revolving around her preparations, to the point where the trials are even infiltrating her dreams.
This week, the Lakeville swimmer will get one last practice run before the real thing. She will race in four events — the 100- and 200-meter backstroke and the 100 and 200 butterfly—starting Thursday at the Pro Swim Series finale in Indianapolis. That mirrors the program she is likely to swim at next month's Olympic trials in Omaha, where Smith will pursue a spot on the U.S. roster for the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Summer Games.
Smith said she isn't chasing any time goals or podium positions in her third Pro Swim Series meet this year. Her sole objective is to get more long-course racing experience, which has been in short supply for the past 14 months, and to continue building toward the trials.
"This is just a practice meet,'' said Smith, the world record holder in the 100 and 200 back. "I don't want to put pressure on myself.
"I haven't had as many meets as I would have if it weren't a COVID year, so this is just another opportunity to get a little bit more comfortable with competition and racing. And I've felt a little more confident with every meet.''
The easing of pandemic-related restrictions has allowed Smith, 19, to gradually return to many of her familiar routines. She's been able to train at her main pool, Bluewater Aquatic Center in Apple Valley, without any recent interruptions. Last month, she made a 10-day training trip to Florida—an essential part of her preparation—for the first time in a year.
Smith is fully vaccinated, which has soothed her worries about COVID, and she swam her best long-course times of the year at a Pro Swim Series meet in San Antonio in March. While she is best known for backstroke, she has become one of the fastest U.S. women in the butterfly as well.
She's already had a historic season in the short-course pool. In mid-March, Smith broke the American record in the 100-yard backstroke, clocking a time of 49.16 seconds at an invitational meet at the University of Minnesota. She also became the second-fastest American woman of all time in the 200-yard fly with a time of 1:49.78.
Coach Mike Parratto said Smith "is in a good place right now'' and will continue to sharpen her form for the Olympic trials with more races in long-course pools.
"It's important to race,'' Parratto said. "A month out [from the Olympic trials], this is a great racing opportunity in a long-course pool against people that are very, very good. That's what these meets are about.''
More than 50 senior and junior national team members are expected to race in Indianapolis. Smith is the top seed in both backstroke events. In the 200 fly, she is seeded second behind world silver medalist Hali Flickinger; in the 100 fly, she is second to Kelsi Dahlia, a relay gold medalist at the 2016 Olympics.
Smith said her April training session in Florida went "exceptionally well.'' Later this month, she will return to Fort Myers for 10 days of final trials preparation.
Resuming her normal pre-pandemic routine has felt both comfortable and energizing. With the trials looming, Smith said the timing couldn't be better.
"I'm thinking about it a lot,'' she said. "I'm going back and forth between being really excited and being a little nervous. It's coming up fast. But I'll be ready.''
TYR PRO SWIM SERIES/INDIANAPOLIS
Where: Indiana University Natatorium
TV: Live coverage of finals sessions will air Friday on Olympic Channel (5 p.m.) and Saturday on NBCSN (5 p.m.). Taped coverage will air Friday on NBCSN (6:30 p.m.) and Saturday on NBC (noon).