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

Allison Schmitt
Getty
0 Comments

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.”

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Aleksander Aamodt Kilde wins Beaver Creek downhill

0 Comments

BEAVER CREEK, Colo. — Norway’s Aleksander Aamodt Kilde won his second straight World Cup downhill race to start the season, despite feeling under the weather.

Although dealing with an illness all week in training, Kilde powered through the challenging Birds of Prey course Saturday in a time of 1 minute, 42.09 seconds. It was enough to hold off Marco Odermatt of Switzerland by 0.06 seconds. James Crawford of Canada was third to earn his second career World Cup podium finish.

Kilde also won the opening downhill last weekend in Lake Louise, Alberta.

“It’s been a tough week,” Kilde said after the race. “I caught the flu in Lake Louise after a very, very nice weekend. It really hit me hard. Then I got a couple of days to rest and take it easy. … I felt OK. Still feeling it a little bit in my system.”

The Beaver Creek crew members had the course in solid shape a day after a downhill race was canceled due to high wind and snowfall.

ALPINE SKIING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Kilde reached speeds around 75 mph in picking up his eighth World Cup downhill victory. That tied him with Kjetil Jansrud for the third-most downhill wins in the World Cup discipline among Norwegian men. The total trails only Aksel Lund Svindal (14) and Lasse Kjus (10).

“I found a really, really good set-up with my equipment and also with my skiing,” Kilde explained. “I believe in myself. I trust in myself. I have a good game plan. When I stand on the start, I don’t dwell on anything. I know that this plan is what I do and when I do that it’s going to be fast.”

Odermatt has been on the podium in all four World Cup races this season as he tries to defend his overall World Cup title. The 25-year-old finished third in the opening downhill of the season last weekend. He’s also won a giant slalom race and a super-G.

Ryan Cochran-Siegle wound up in seventh place for the top American finish. He was ninth in the downhill in Lake Louise.

“It’s been solid,” Cochran-Siegle said of his strides in the discipline. “A couple of little things here and there that pushed me off that top three. You have to ski with a lot of intensity and ski without abandon, in a sense. Today was a good step.”

Switzerland’s Beat Feuz, who won the Olympic downhill gold medal at the Beijing Games last February, tied for ninth.

The Beaver Creek stop on the circuit comes to a close Sunday with a super-G race. Odermatt will be the favorite after holding off Kilde in the opening super-G last weekend.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Summer McIntosh, Canadian teen swimmer, caps record year with another historic time

0 Comments

Summer McIntosh swam the fourth-fastest 400m individual medley in history on Friday, capping a year that already included world titles, Commonwealth Games titles and a victory over Katie Ledecky.

McIntosh, a 16-year-old Canadian whose mom swam at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, won the 400m IM in 4 minutes, 28.61 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C. She prevailed by a Ledecky-like 13.24 seconds, breaking her own national record that was previously the fourth-fastest time in history.

“It’s still pretty early in the season, so I didn’t really know what to expect going into it,” she said on Peacock.

The only two women who ever went faster in the event known as the decathlon of swimming are Olympic gold medalists: Hungary’s Katinka Hosszu (world record 4:26.36 and 4:28.58) and China’s Ye Shiwen (4:28.43).

McIntosh has come a long way in a short time. Three years ago, she put all her eggs in the 1500m freestyle basket, thinking it was her best shot to merely qualify for the Tokyo Games in 2020. The one-year Olympic postponement was a blessing.

The rapidly improving McIntosh swam three individual events in Tokyo with a top finish of fourth in the 400m free, just missing becoming the youngest swimming medalist since 1996. She then told her coach she wanted to become an IMer.

At this past June’s world championships, McIntosh won two of the most grueling events — 400m IM and 200m butterfly — to become the youngest individual world champion since 2011. She also took silver to Ledecky in the 400m free, an event in which she later beat Ledecky in a short-course meet (25-meter pool rather than the 50-meter pool used for the Olympics).

A month after worlds, McIntosh swept the IMs at the Commonwealth Games, where she broke more world junior records and again took second in the 400m free (this time to Olympic champ and world record holder Ariarne Titmus of Australia).

McIntosh, who turned professional last year, now trains full-time in Sarasota, Florida, where she rents a house with her mom, Jill Horstead, who was ninth in the 200m fly at the 1984 Olympics (McIntosh, whose passions include the Kardashians and plants from Target, has seen video of her mom winning the B final at those Games). They’re a three-hour drive down Interstate 75 from Ledecky’s base in Gainesville.

Also Friday, Erin Gemmell celebrated her 18th birthday by nearly becoming the first American to beat Ledecky in a 200m freestyle in nearly nine years. Ledecky won by 42 hundredths of a second in 1:56.74 and said she had an off-day while also praising Gemmell, the daughter of her former coach.

NBC airs U.S. Open highlights on Dec. 10 at 4:30 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!