After 10 Olympic medals, Allison Schmitt’s focus is on school and teaching

Allison Schmitt
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Allison Schmitt, a 10-time Olympic medalist, knew since college that she wanted to teach upon transitioning from full-time swimming. Maybe have a kindergarten, first grade or second grade classroom with 20 to 30 kids.

Schmitt, a 32-year-old whose last race was at her fourth Olympics in Tokyo, had left hip surgery in September. She will have right hip surgery in December. She hasn’t officially retired, but she doesn’t have any upcoming competition plans.

Instead, she will get her master’s degree in social work at Arizona State next spring.

Schmitt had not imagined she would become this kind of teacher, using a platform earned through all those laps in the pool to share her mental health journey with the goal to help others.

She was a panelist this week at “Mental Wellness and The Student-Athlete,” an event through the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s youth sport outreach program, TrueSport.

Seven years ago, Schmitt began sharing her struggles, specifically depression, that dated to 2011. She was motivated to speak publicly after her cousin April Bocian died by suicide in May 2015 at age 17. Bocian was a promising basketball player, and Schmitt related to her.

“I knew her story wasn’t over,” Schmitt said Wednesday. “And even though she wasn’t on Earth to share her story, that I can share that story. And I could use my experience as well to share my story so that people don’t feel alone.”

Schmitt texted her agent at the funeral that she wanted to get involved in the mental health space. Leading up to the 2016 Rio Games, she shared her experiences across media.

“I avoided every public speaking class [in school] to the point where I’d be like sweaty hands and breathing into a paper bag, like did not want to speak in front of people,” she said. “Now I’m so comfortable with it because I’m so passionate about mental health and sharing that story that it comes a lot easier to me, and I actually really enjoy it.”

Schmitt joked that whether she will swim competitively again is “the question of the century right now.”

Her 2012 Olympic 200m freestyle victory was epic — an American record time that still stands, fending off Katie Ledecky‘s best efforts over the last decade. She came back from not qualifying for the world championships in 2013 and 2015 to win two Olympic relay medals in 2016. In 2018, she came out of a two-year quasi-retirement and later made the Tokyo Olympic team, winning another pair of relay medals.

“I don’t have plans on competing, but right now I’m finishing school,” she said. “I’m passionate about that.

“I still want to be a teacher, but I feel like my sense of teacher is broader now. Yes, I can still go teach a room of 25 kids and impact their lives, but I feel like, now, my calling is more of a teacher in the mental health field.”

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Olympic flame to travel by sea for Paris 2024, welcomed by armada

Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024
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The Olympic flame will travel from Athens to Marseille by ship in spring 2024 to begin the France portion of the torch relay that ends in Paris on July 26, 2024.

The torch relay always begins in the ancient Olympic site of Olympia, Greece, where the sun’s rays light the flame. It will be passed by torch until it reaches Athens.

It will then cross the Mediterranean Sea aboard the Belem, a three-masted ship, “reminiscent of a true Homeric epic,” according to Paris 2024. It will arrive at the Old Port of Marseille, welcomed by an armada of boats.

Marseille is a former Greek colony and the oldest city in France. It will host sailing and some soccer matches during the Paris Olympics.

The full 2024 Olympic torch relay route will be unveiled in May.

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Paris 2024 Olympic Torch Relay Marseille
Paris 2024

Mikaela Shiffrin heads to world championships with medal records in sight

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Before Mikaela Shiffrin can hold the World Cup wins record, she can become the most decorated Alpine skier in modern world championships history.

Shiffrin takes a respite from World Cup pursuits for the biennial world championships in France. She is expected to race at least four times, beginning with Monday’s combined.

Shiffrin has a tour-leading 11 World Cup victories in 23 starts this season, her best since her record 17-win 2018-19 campaign, but world championships do not count toward the World Cup.

Shiffrin remains one career victory behind Swede Ingemar Stenmark‘s record 86 World Cup wins until at least her next World Cup start in March.

Shiffrin has been more successful at worlds than at the Olympics and even on the World Cup. She has 11 medals in 13 world championships races dating to her 2013 debut, including making the podium in each of her last 10 events.

ALPINE SKIING WORLDS: Broadcast Schedule

She enters worlds one shy of the modern, post-World War II individual records for total medals (Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt won 12) and gold medals (Austrian Toni Sailer, Frenchwoman Marielle Goitschel and Swede Anja Pärson won seven).

Worlds take place exactly one year after Shiffrin missed the medals in all of her Olympic races, but that’s not motivating her.

“If I learned anything last year, it’s that these big events, they can go amazing, and they can go terrible, and you’re going to survive no matter what,” she said after her most recent World Cup last Sunday. “So I kind of don’t care.”

Shiffrin ranks No. 1 in the world this season in the giant slalom (Feb. 16 at worlds) and slalom (Feb. 18).

This year’s combined is one run of super-G coupled with one run of slalom (rather than one downhill and one slalom), which also plays to her strengths. She won that event, with that format, at the last worlds in 2021. The combined isn’t contested on the World Cup, so it’s harder to project favorites.

Shiffrin is also a medal contender in the super-G (Feb. 8), despite starting just two of five World Cup super-Gs this season (winning one of them).

She is not planning to race the downhill (Feb. 11), which she often skips on the World Cup and has never contested at a worlds. Nor is she expected for the individual parallel (Feb. 15), a discipline she hasn’t raced in three years in part due to the strain it puts on her back with the format being several runs for the medalists.

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