Allison Schmitt

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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Simone Manuel, Ryan Lochte among swim stars not entered in world champs trials

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Simone ManuelRyan LochteAllison Schmitt and Nathan Adrian, who own a combined 35 Olympic medals and haven’t competed since the Tokyo Games, have not yet entered next week’s world swimming championships trials.

The preliminary entries were published Thursday here.

The standard entry deadline passed on Tuesday night. Late entries are allowed, with a fee, through Sunday.

In most events, the top two swimmers at trials next week in Greensboro, N.C., qualify for the world championships in Budapest in June.

U.S. SWIMMING RANKINGS: Women | Men

Manuel, a five-time Olympic medalist, was expected to take a break after the Tokyo Games. She announced at the Olympic Trials last June that she had been diagnosed with overtraining syndrome and dealt with depression, anxiety and insomnia last spring.

A doctor told her that, pending she made the Olympic team, she needed to take two months off to let her body rest.

Manuel has not publicly stated if or when she plans to compete again.

Manuel, 25, made every Olympic, world championships and Pan Pacific Championships team in the last two Olympic cycles. This year will be her first time not on the national team since the 2012 London Games.

Manuel won four gold medals and a female record seven total medals at the last worlds in 2019.

In Manuel’s absence, the top U.S. female sprint freestylers this year have been fellow Tokyo Olympians Claire Curzan and Abbey Weitzeil.

Lochte, 37 and a 12-time Olympic medalist, said after missing the Tokyo Olympic team that he still wanted to race but didn’t know if he could make it to another Olympic Trials in 2024. Lochte’s agent confirmed he will not be a late entry into trials. This will be the first trials meet that Lochte has missed — that he’s been eligible for — since the 2000 Olympic Trials.

Schmitt, 31 and a 10-time Olympic medalist, has not publicly said whether she will return to competition. She took nearly two years off after the 2016 Rio Games.

Adrian, 33 and an eight-time Olympic medalist, said after missing the Tokyo Olympic team by one spot in the 50m free that he didn’t know what was next for him in the sport. His agent said that Adrian will not be a late trials entry and is expected to decide on his competitive future by the end of the summer.

Erica Sullivan, the Olympic 1500m free silver medalist who competed this past NCAA season as a Texas freshman, is also not entered at trials, citing a shoulder injury, according to Swimswam.com.

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Katie Ledecky, after chats with legends, wins two races in one night at Olympic Trials

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Katie Ledecky isn’t known for pre-race chatter, but she shared a message with the other seven swimmers before the first Olympic Trials women’s 1500m freestyle final on Wednesday.

“We’re making history tonight,” she said.

Then she crushed them.

Ledecky won the 200m free and the 1500m free in an 85-minute span in Omaha, giving her three victories in three events with just the 800m free to go.

In the 200m free, Ledecky trailed at the halfway mark but won comfortably in 1:55.11. She’s joined in the individual 200m free by 2012 Olympic champion Allison Schmitt, who was 1.68 seconds behind and held on by .01 over Paige Madden. Schmitt, 31, made her fourth Olympic team after taking almost two years off after Rio, where she was strictly a relay swimmer.

Madden and fourth place Katie McLaughlin qualified for the 4x200m free relay. Bella Sims, a 16-year-old who ranked 133rd in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019, is also likely going to Tokyo along with Brooke Forde for finishing fifth and sixth.

Ledecky later routed the field by 10.68 seconds in the 1500m free, which makes its Olympic debut as a women’s event in Tokyo after being on the program for men since 1908. She clocked 15:40.50, with Erica Sullivan getting second.

Ledecky owns the 10 fastest times in history, led by her world record of 15:20.48.

Much has been made this week about the fact that Australian rival Ariarne Titmus has been faster than Ledecky this year in the 200m and 400m frees, but the American remains in class of her own in the 1500m. Her prelims time — 15:43.10 — was three seconds faster than any other woman in 2021.

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

On Tuesday night, Ledecky texted with Debbie Meyer, who in 1968 won the Olympic debuts of the women’s 200m free and the women’s 800m free. Ledecky first met Meyer at age 17 at a United States Aquatic Sports Convention. The high schooler Ledecky’s eyes lit up at the mere mention of Meyer’s name, not needing to be told that she was an Olympian.

On Tuesday, Meyer texted Ledecky to express familiarity. She saw parallels between Ledecky leading the first set of Olympic women’s 1500m freestylers into Tokyo, and her own experience with the 800m in Mexico City.

Then on Wednesday morning, Ledecky was out for a walk in steamy Omaha, her first fresh air in three days, and saw Janet Evans. She won the 800m free at the Olympics in 1988 and 1992, but never got a chance to swim the 1500m at the Games despite holding the world record from 1987 to 2007.

“She swims her races a lot like I used to,” Evans said after posing for pictures with Ledecky at the 2014 U.S. Championships. “I remember that feeling when there’s no one around you [in a race]. You’re just like, what do I do now? You keep swimming.”

While some swimmers move down to shorter events as they age, Ledecky loves the mile.

“I’ve always enjoyed the distance training,” she said, noting the mental strength, toughness and strategy to reel off 28 consecutive 31-second lengths of the pool on Wednesday.

Ledecky managed a difficult double. After winning the 200m free, she had a 15-to-20-minute warm-down swim before an awards ceremony. She ate a banana, drank chocolate milk and water and put a jacket on as she walked, slowly, maximizing efficiency and conserving energy. After stumbling over her words in a quick interview, she moderately swam some more before returning to the competition pool.

It’s a process she’s familiar with, having done the 200m-1500m double in one night at world championships with about a half-hour between events. In Tokyo, she’ll have another tough stretch:

July 26 morning: 400m freestyle final
July 26 evening: 200m free and 1500m free heats
July 27 morning: 200m free semifinals
July 28 morning: 200m free and 1500m free finals

“But I feel prepared for it,” she said Wednesday.

ON HER TURF: Ledecky qualified for one of the toughest doubles in Olympic history

In other finals, four hundredths separated first from third in the women’s 200m individual medley. Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass, 19-year-old Virginia teammates, went one-two. Madisyn Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist, missed out by .02.

Zach Harting, known to march out for races in a Batman costume, won the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:55.06, coming back from third at the 150-meter mark.

Gunnar Bentz, a 2016 Olympian who was at the Rio gas station with Ryan Lochte, was second after being fifth at 150. The 19-year-old Luca Urlando, the fastest American since the start of 2019, finished third, .09 behind Bentz to miss the team.

In semifinals, world champion Caeleb Dressel led the eight qualifiers into Thursday’s men’s 100m free final.

But 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, eyeing his fourth Olympics and his first since a testicular cancer diagnosis two and a half years ago, was 13th and did not advance. His second and last chance to make it to Tokyo is in the 50m free this weekend, but the 100m was his better shot.

Favorites Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith were the fastest qualifiers into Thursday’s women’s 200m fly final. Katie Drabot, who took bronze at 2019 Worlds, missed the final in 13th place.

Matt Fallon, 18, was the top qualifier into Thursday’s men’s 200m breast final. He’s followed by pre-meet favorites including 2015 World silver medalist Kevin CordesCody Miller, the Rio 100m breast bronze medalist, failed to make either breaststroke final and misses the Olympic team.

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