By Sharon Robb
MIAMI, August 30, 2022–Swimming is definitely a family affair for Lydia Smutny.
It’s been that way since her parents were competitive swimmers in high school and college and her father, Steven, competed at the 1984 Olympic trials and was an outstanding college swimmer at Temple University.
All six of the Smutny children followed in their parents’ footsteps in the sport. There is Matt, 27; Luke 24; Mary, 21, Lucy, 19, Maddie, 17; and Lydia, 14.
Is it any wonder Lydia has the advantage of being the youngest in the family, learning from her siblings’ swimming experiences, good and bad?
USA Swimming and veteran Florida Gold Coast official Steven Goldman once posted on his Facebook page: “Seems like every meet I go to there is a Smutny.”
And SOFLO Miami site head coach Lou Manganiello, with more than 40 years of coaching experience at every level of swimming, has been involved in all of their swimming careers, past and present. “Yes, I’ve coached them all,” he said.
Smutny, a freshman, is home schooled and will compete for Cutler Bay Senior High School’s swim team for the first time this season and hopes to make it to states. She recently moved up from the Makos with Coach Issy to the Great Whites group and now works with Coach Lou at the Miami site. She calls it a fun group and “competitive group where I get to race people that are around my speed.”
Smutny, who has never had a swim lesson, has been swimming for nine years.
“My entire family was in swimming so I just started swimming,” said Smutny, who would go to the pool when she was little to watch her siblings work out. “I watched them swim and saw how much fun it was. I always wanted to do swimming. I was very happy I started.”
Smutny, whose favorite stroke is the butterfly like the rest of her family, said she loves to compete.
“I am a very competitive person with a lot of siblings. We’re competitive but we’re also supportive of each other. We tease each other about the times at each other’s age, like when they were my age they would tell me what they did but they cheer me along. I did follow a lot of their footsteps for fly and strokes. They watch me and encourage me during practices and meets.
“It’s just a very enjoyable sport for me. It keeps me fit. I’ve made a lot of friends and it helps me with time management and motivation.”
A normal day for Smutny features two to three daily practice sessions. After early morning practice she has her school session, naps, goes to her high school pool for another practice and from there goes to her home club pool.
“I like club more because I have been there a lot longer and it’s year-round,” Smutny said. “I have a lot more friends there.”
At the 14-and-under Florida Gold Coast Junior Olympics at Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart, Smutny turned in six lifetime best times: 100-meter butterfly, 1.76 and dropping below 1:10 for the first time; 100-meter freestyle, 0.67 drop; 400-meter freestyle, 6.66 drop; 200-meter freestyle, 6.94 drop; 200-meter butterfly, 8.07 drop and 400 IM.
“It was a very fun meet for me because a lot of my teammates were there and it was a big meet,” Smutny said. “I like long course and it’s fun to swim fast to me. I was surprised at my 200 fly and 400 IM. I dropped a good amount in prelims and even more in finals. That was my best long course JOs and the biggest meet I’ve been to yet.
“There are some meets where I put pressure on myself and I get nervous before but then I do good after,” she said. “Sometimes I work better under pressure.”
In addition to trying to make states this season, Smutny would like to get her Futures Cut and another sectional cut in addition to her 200 butterfly cut she got at JOs. A long range goal is swimming in college.
Each TYR Swimmer of the Month receives a free TYR backpack. Smutny joins SOFLO teammates Amber Connor (June), Eva Ortiz (May), Sally Golding (April), Natalie Gembicki (March), Sofia Lugo (February) and Valentina Remmele (January) as 2022 Swimmers of the Month.
SOFLO sponsor TYR is a USA manufacturer of recreational and competitive swimwear, caps, goggles, triathlon gear and accessories and one of the nation’s top companies.
TYR, created by athletes, is named for the Norse god of warriors in Germanic mythology. Among its female-sponsored athletes are 2020 Olympians Simone Manuel, Katie Ledecky, Lilly King, Annie Lazor, Ashley Twichell and other elite swimmers Melanie Margalis, Molly Hannis and Kelsi Dahlia.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com