Olympian to hold clinic at GBN

Zoe Bendoff, Staff Writer

Olympic swimmer Clark Smith is scheduled to coach three clinics at Glenbrook North on April 28 and April 29. Of the multiple sessions, one is scheduled in the afternoon on April 29 for swimmers aged 12 and above, while the others are for younger children. The clinic is part of the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour, an elite level swim clinic in America.

In a phone interview, Smith said he was part of a winning relay in the Rio Olympics and became an NCAA champion last year.“What I take and learn from [Olympic and collegiate] races … is what I kind of give back in clinics,” Smith said.

Sam D’Andrea, Glenbrook Aquatics Swim Club coach, said Fitter and Faster contacted them about hosting clinics in their facilities for swimmers in the area as part of a larger tour. Though Glenbrook Aquatics swimmers were given the first opportunity to register, the clinics are available to all swimmers regardless of age and ability.

According to Chloe Sutton, marketing manager of the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour, available clinic spots sold out in a matter of weeks, record time for the company. With 60 swimmers per session, Fitter and Faster added a second clinician, Olympic coach Todd Schmitz, to assist Smith in teaching techniques to cut down competitive race time.

“This [clinic] is called ‘Turn it Up,’ and it’s a curriculum that focuses on open turns, flip turns, underwater dolphin turns and breakouts,” Sutton said.

Senior Ellen Gilbert, who swims for Glenbrook Aquatics and signed up for Smith’s clinic, said learning about turns and breakouts from an elite level swimmer will be a unique opportunity.

“I do a lot of turns and breakouts in practice every day, but I’m not as focused on them as I should be,” Gilbert said. 

Sutton said prior to the clinic, there will be a 30-minute check-in session in which participants will be able to meet and take photos with Smith. Parents are encouraged to stay for the duration of the clinic and participate in a question and answer session at the end.

According to Smith, past clinics have been a great experience for swimmers and himself. He enjoys working as a clinician, inspiring kids to enjoy swimming.

“[I] give as much feedback to every swimmer as I can,” said Smith. “Obviously, it’s not like a private lesson, but the tips I like to teach them [are] not to force their strokes and stay nice and relaxed above the water.”