It’s safe to say Regan Smith is comfortable around water. With three swimming medals earned at the 2020 Olympic games, two first place finishes at the 2019 World Championships, and a pair of current or former world records to her name, the Lakeville, MN native (who learned to swim at FOSS) doesn’t remember an age when she didn’t like getting in the water.
But ever for Regan, good water safety practices are a part of her everyday routine. “Water safety is taken so seriously, even at the highest level,” she said. “I see memes and things on the internet that say things like ‘Why do they have lifeguards at the Olympics?’ Even if you’ve very trained at swimming and very comfortable in the water, accidents happen.”
Water safety was always a part of her life growing up. Her parents were not competitive swimmers and according to Regan hadn’t had the best experiences learning to swim – “My mom got thrown into the deep end,” she recalls – but wanting to ensure their daughters’ safety, they enrolled Regan and her older sister at FOSS.
Making water safety a family tradition
The family enjoyed travel, often to destinations where water was a part of the experience – lake cabins, the ocean, places with pools. From an early age, Regan remembers her family following best practices like close parental supervision, swimming with a buddy, and having flotation at hand in case it was needed.
“Water is so much fun, but you need to respect it. I still think about it to this day. Even as an Olympian, I still go back to my roots.” Lessons Regan first learned at FOSS, things like not diving into shallow water or blowing water out to keep from choking, are still second nature to her.
“It’s really cool how I can use things I learned at such a young age,” she said. “Although at the time I didn’t view it as water safety tips. They were just games for me. I still learned all the important stuff because it was taught in a fun way.”
Case in point: “I had a favorite exercise: Chop Chop Timber. I loved that so much! And now looking at it, I realize that it was getting me comfortable falling into water where I can’t touch.”
Building on the basics
Beyond the safety lessons and learning her strokes, FOSS provided Regan with the opportunity to swim her first ever race at a fun meet. “I remember loving it. I did the 50 butterfly and a bunch of other races. It was so much fun. I loved the feeling of winning so I kept going!”
But no matter how far she goes in her career, those water safety lessons learned at a young age are the foundation on which it all is built. “It’s important to have confidence, but not think, oh, this can’t happen to me. It can happen to anyone, at any level.
“It’s so important to remember how important water safety is. It’s just something everyone on the planet should learn.”