She is thrilled for this upcoming ISL season to start next month, where she will be representing and competing for the Cali Condors. “It feels incredible. I am so excited. Obviously, it is going to look so different but to have some sense of normalcy this year is refreshing,” she said.
Smoliga praised General Manager Jason Lezak for being a living legend. “Jason is incredible. He is not only a great leader but I feel he is a great friend. I learned so much from him, he has a cool and calm aura. Jason is a great guy to be around and to look up to. To have an American legend as our General Manger is really special,” she said.
“Jason anchoring the 2008 Olympic relay race gives me chills every time I watch it. That race was just incredible and very inspirational,” she added.
Her goal is to be equally successful is both the freestyle and backstroke events. “ISL aids me in the fact that I can race in both of those events. I’m looking forward to it, hopefully I can get some more freestyle in there,” she said. “Our team is rocking, so I am really excited.”
“I am trying to improve every day compared to how I was the day before, it’s an everyday process. I pride myself in working hard and I hope to do that all year: I want to keep improving,” she added.
Smoliga acknowledged that she has been “all right” during quarantine. “My quarantine situation was nice,” she admitted. “I have nothing to complain about. I was able to go home to Chicago with my family with my parents and my brother so I was there for two to three months. It was so nice to be with family. I hadn’t been home for that long in eight years so it was nice and refreshing. I was able to work out with my brother so I feel I didn’t miss a beat. I just came back to Georgia and we are lucky enough to have some outdoor pools here and there so we are putting in some good work.”
During quarantine, she shared that she developed such new skills as mastering a chocolate cake recipe and she has been meditating more too. “I am appreciating the fact that I am healthy and my family is healthy,” she said. “I am still able to keep going and doing what I love safely.”
Her advice for people during the pandemic is to “control what you can control.” “There are so many things outside of your control that you can’t force and you can’t put your input on. All that you can control is how you react to those situations. If you are able to stay cool and composed in the hardest of times, then you will be that much better when it’s not such a hard, trying time,” she said.
“I see a silver lining in everything in my life. Even if you have a terrible day, you can still learn something from it: you can learn how to adapt from it, and maybe there is a lesson in there. You will never grow if you are comfortable. Being uncomfortable is going to promote growth and success. You can’t be smooth sailing all the time. In hard times, you should appreciate them just as much as you appreciate the good times. The adverse times mold us,” she said.
On the commonalities that she sees among champions, Smoliga said, “Champions believe that they are champions through and through, and that makes them champions. There is something really powerful about the mental strength that separates elite athletes vs. great athletes. Quarantine has taught me to control all that I can control and how to react in situations and how to adapt to situations. What is really cool with ISL is that we get to engage that part of our mind and our racing capacity so much more than we ever have before.”
Regarding the title of the current chapter of her life, Smoliga said, “Growth and Learning.”
Smoliga defined the word success as “believing in yourself.”
For her fans and supporters, she concluded, “Thank you for the love, thank you for keeping up with me. I’ve been on such a cool journey and ride. I plan to keep going for as long as I can and I am just so thankful for everyone cheering me on.”
year❤️I get to do what I love every day and I THANK YOU! Thank you for the growth, the friends, the love❤️❤️❤️I’m hoping to grow and learn every day and I’m looking at 2020 ready #letsgoooo ☺️ • : @bex.wyant