Red Deer swimmer Rebecca Smith home with Olympic silver medal: ‘Still can’t believe it’

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Red Deer swimmer enjoys homecoming after capturing Olympic silver
Red Deer’s Rebecca Smith had an experience of a lifetime in Tokyo, not only competing in her first Olympics, but winning a silver medal in the pool. Slav Kornik has the story. – Aug 13, 2021

Red Deer, Alta.’s Rebecca Smith has returned home from the Tokyo Olympics with silverware in hand.

“I just still can’t believe. It’s just so special to win this silver medal with three other girls,” Smith said.

The 21-year-old captured a silver medal in the women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay along with teammates Penny Oleksiak, Kayla Sanchez and Margaret Mac Neil.

“Once we saw that two beside our name, we were just jumping up and down. We just went crazy, so that was a really special moment,” Smith said.

As thrilling as capturing an Olympic silver medal has been, the Red Deer native said the entire Olympic experience was a dream come true.

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“That was an accomplishment in itself, just being on the Olympic team and being part of Team Canada is so special,” she said. “It’s just an honour to even walk out on deck with that maple leaf, so just unlike any other experience I’ve had.”

Smith grew up competing in swimming in Red Deer, but she did not expect it would lead to the biggest stages in the sport.

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“When I started when I was eight years old, it was all just about having fun with my friends,” Smith said. “My sister first started and I wanted to join with her. So that was the whole point of swimming for me. I really didn’t think about it going this far.”

As a member of the Red Deer Catalina Swim Club, Smith quickly became exceptional in the pool. At the age of 16, she moved to Toronto to train at the High Performance Centre with the other elite swimmers from around Canada.

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She quickly made an impact on the international stage, capturing medals at junior and world championships, and the Commonwealth Games.

READ MORE: Tokyo Olympics officials have penalized 16 people for breaking COVID-19 guidelines

Smith hopes her accomplishments in the pool will help inspire the next generation of swimmers in central Alberta.

“I went the to the rec centre the other day, the pool, and lots of people were recognizing me, seeing me, and I think it’s finally hitting me that, ‘Oh, wow, I’m an inspiration to these little kids,’” Smith said. “It means so much.

“I just want to show them that if you work hard and pursue your dreams that it can happen.”

The next summer Olympics is in 2024, but Smith is not looking that far into the future. Right now, she is focused on school; she will be attending the University of Calgary in September to pursue a nursing degree and join the swim team.

“I’m just excited to have fun with that and I’ll just keep working hard and see what happens.”

If Smith’s swim career to this point is any indication, her future is a bright one.

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