TOKYO — Sure, "Higher, Faster, Stronger'' works as an Olympic creed.
But it has nothing on this : "Do it for your dog.''
Regan Smith of Lakeville made one last appearance on Sunday night at the Olympics, joining a news conference with three of her USA Swimming teammates after the United States dominated the medal count at the Tokyo Aquatic Center.
The United States totaled 30 medals. Australia was second with 20.
Smith became the first Minnesotan to win more than two medals at one Olympics, a day before gymnast Suni Lee matched her with a third by winning the bronze in the uneven bars.
Sunday, Smith sat next to Bobby Finke, Lily King and Ryan Murphy as they reminisced about Tokyo, discussed doping and missing their pets.
Smith said she managed stress well at the Olympics, but added that she had trouble remaining motivated and positive during the pandemic and the postponement of the Games.
So she got a third dog. Kai is a "Pomsky," a Pomeranian-Husky blend. Kai became her life coach.
"Training for this year did get hard sometimes because we didn't know if the Games were happening or we might get postponed again,'' Smith said. "I had to look for motivation outside the pool and I found that in my family, my friends and my dog. I got a dog this year and I always just try to do things for him just because he doesn't know me as a swimmer.
"He just knows me as me. So that's who I tried to do things for when training got hard.''
Asked about celebrating his two gold medals, Finke said, "I want to get home and take my dog for a walk. Take him to the park.''
Then the interview session swerved toward a less comfortable topic. After taking the silver medal in the 200-meter backstroke to Russia's Evgeny Rylov, Murphy answered a question about doping by saying it remains a problem in the sport.
He said his intention was not to accuse Rylov specifically of cheating. But he didn't seem to mind the implication that Russia, which is officially banned from the Tokyo Olympics but has its athletes competing under the Russian Olympic Committee banner, may still be breaking rules.
Murphy said he, his family and his girlfriend have received messages "that are not OK.''
King eagerly addressed the topic. "As long as there have been athletics there has been doping,'' she said. "Obviously, we're working to clean it up. And there were, I'm sure, a lot of people from certain countries competing this week that probably shouldn't have been here.''
King was sitting next to Murphy and turned to address him. "I try not to think about that. But, also, I wasn't racing anyone from the country who should have been banned but instead got a slap on the wrist and a rebranding of their national flag,'' she said. "So I personally wasn't affected, but Ryan was. I know I feel like that has tainted your experience, and for that I am so sorry. There are a lot of people here who should not be here.''
“I had to look for motivation outside the pool and I found that in my family, my friends and my dog. I got a dog this year and I always just try to do things for him just because he doesn't know me as a swimmer. He just knows me as me. ”
The four talked about dealing with stress and COVID protocols. Smith said she was able to sleep, eat well and "hang out'' with friends on the team. Finke said he barely slept at the Olympic trials but has found tricks that helped at the Games.
"I'm excited about the future,'' he said.
So is Smith. As she prepares for her freshman year at Stanford, she left little doubt that she is eyeing the Paris Olympics in 2024.
"I've had a really, really great time at the Games,'' she said. "It's been a great experience. There's no greater feeling than putting the American flag cap on your head and competing for your country. And I've just had the time of my life here and I'm hungry for more.''