The man with the most gold medals in American Olympic history helped a local first-timer capture his first one Aug. 9.
American swimming superstar Michael Phelps, who owns 21 gold medals in his five career Olympic performances, helped the U.S. 4×200-meter relay team to victory, putting a gold medal around the neck of Regis Jesuit High School graduate Clark Smith.
The 21-year-old Smith — a 2013 Regis Jesuit grad and senior-to-be at the University of Texas — swam the opening leg for the Americans in the prelim event and received a gold, even though he was one of three swimmers changed out for the finals.
Smith, Texas teammate Jack Condon, Gunnar Bentz and Lochte combined to record the second-fastest time in the prelims of 7 minutes, 6.74 seconds, with Smith contributing an opening leg split of 1:47.20.
Lochte remained in the lineup for the final, while Phelps, Conor Dwyer and another of Smith’s Texas teammates — Townley Haas — were added and put on a commanding performance in the race, bettering the team’s prelim time by nearly six full seconds.
The U.S. had a significant lead in the finals and Phelps closed it out in style, despite swimming shortly after he won the 200 butterfly.
The Americans won in 7:00.66, with Great Britain a distant second in 7:03.13.
The Americans have now won the gold medal in the men’s 4×200 meter relay for four consecutive Olympic Games, with Lochte and Phelps a part of every single one of those victories.
Smith finished his inaugural Olympic performance 1-for-1 in the medal count and joined a long lineage of Texas swimmers who have claimed medals all-time. According to the Longhorns’ Twitter account, the medal haul from the relay boosted the program’s all-time total to 71 medals from 42 swimmers, a count that includes 46 golds, 16 silvers and nine bronzes.
A three-time All-American at Texas with an NCAA championship to his credit, Smith qualified to be part of the relay pool with his sixth-place finish in the 200 meter freestyle at the Olympic Trials in Omaha. He went through training camps with the team in San Antonio and Atlanta before heading off to Brazil.
Smith won the family’s first medal as his mother Tori (formerly Trees) came up just short with a fifth-place showing in the 200 meter backstroke at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Courtney Oakes is Aurora Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. FB: Aurora Prep Sentinel