Gator nation added to its resume Saturday night, as USA swimmer Kieran Smith notched his first Olympic medal in the 400-meter freestyle in Tokyo.
Smith stood on the Olympic podium with a bronze medal in his hand after he touched the wall third in the event’s final. He finished in 3 minutes, 43.94 seconds; 0.13 seconds ahead of Germany’s Henning Muhlleitner and Austria’s Felix Auboeck.
Smith started strong and spent much of the first 200 meters among the top three, but he began to fall behind as the race wore on. Auboeck and Muhlleitner pushed past Smith, but the rising Florida senior persevered to remain within striking distance as the final 50 meters began.
Smith pulled ahead of his opponents quickly in the final leg and kept his nose just in front as the race ended to nab a medal.
The Florida swimmer secured his spot in the finals with a sterling performance in his prelims Saturday morning. The Gator took third place in heat five with a 3:45.25 time, only .13 seconds ahead of USA swimmer Jake Mitchell to make the final race.
Smith’s Olympic journey isn’t over yet. He will race again in the 200-meter freestyle, which begins Sunday with the finals Monday.
Contact Ryan Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ryan_dhaley.
Ryan Haley, a UF journalism senior with a sports & media specialization from Jacksonville, Florida, is Summer 2022's Engagement Managing Editor. He grew up playing a bunch of different sports before settling on golf, following Rory McIlroy and all Philadelphia sports teams. He also loves all things fiction, reading, watching shows and movies and talking about whatever current story or character is in his head.