We are stoked to welcome professional swimmer, Sierra Schmidt, to Team Zealios! Sierra joins the ranks of other esteemed athletes who trust Zealios for their performance care needs. Sierra competed this summer at the USA Swimming Olympic Trials. While she's a beast in the pool, you might know her for her moves outside of the water. Let's get to know the Dancing Queen!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! My name is Sierra Schmidt and I am a distance freestyle swimmer. If you happened to watch the USA Swimming Olympic Trials this summer, you may have seen me, or rather my dancing before my races in the 400, 800 and 1500 meter freestyle finals.
Here are some quick facts about me- my family is very athletic as my parents, Mindy and Joseph Schmidt, both attended the University of Michigan and competed on the Track and Field and Cross Country teams at UM. My dad ran cross-country and track, as well as swam, all four years in high school and he was a state champion in cross-country his senior year. My mom was a 4- time Big Ten Champion and 5-time All-American in cross-country and track, and competed professionally after graduation. She was a finalist at the 1992 Olympic Trials in the 10,000m and was a member of the 1992 World Championship cross-country team that finished second. I also have a younger sister, Trinity, who was diagnosed with autism in the third grade and went on to earn All-State three times and place third in the 500 freestyle at the Pennsylvania AA State Championship. She now competes for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and is studying Sequential Art as she begins her sophomore year.
How did you get into competitive swimming?
I was born in Scottsdale, Arizona, which unfortunately has a high drowning rate for young children, and a majority of homes have pools. Because of this, my parents signed me up for swim lessons with Hubbard’s Family Swim School just before I turned two. I really didn’t start competitively swimming until I was about 6 years old, joining my local summer team. We moved back east near Philadelphia when I was in the second grade, I progressively got faster, and was lucky enough when I was 16 to join the prestigious North Baltimore Aquatic Club, where the legendary Michael Phelps trained. My swimming career really took off that summer as I won three Junior National titles, made my first Junior Team and first international meet. From there, I’ve been able to travel all around the world, won a Pan American gold medal, and became a 5-time U.S. National Team member. What I really love about this sport is being given the opportunities to travel to places I never would have been able to, and meet people I would have otherwise not have known. I love hearing veteran swimmers’ stories about what the sport has taught them, and using those lessons to further my understanding of not just the sport, but about the world.
Favorite swim workout?
That’s a tough question! I would say any workout that challenges me is my favorite, especially if I have teammates working alongside me. I have always loved pushing teammates, and having them push me as well. I think that in this sport that can be so individually based, it is so important to find training partners who want everyone to succeed, and to head towards the same goal. But, if I had to pick a specific workout, I really love the 30x100s freestyle set that we do on Saturdays. It is a great way to challenge a distance swimmer’s endurance, as well as speed, with the mental challenge of swimming hard over and over again for 30 reps. It’s a burner, that's for sure!
Goals for your swimming career?
I don’t often make super concrete goals for myself, especially in a COVID world where anything can change in a second. But, the general goals for my career is to continue to challenge my understanding of the world, enjoy the journey, and push myself to my potential, whatever that may be. I think sports are a great place to really challenge yourself not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. I want to continue swimming as long as the sport has lessons to teach me, and I can tell it isn’t done teaching me some hard lessons yet!
Tell us about the dancing!!
So, the dancing actually started out as a way to make my parents laugh. When I was younger, I was so nervous, so I would always try to make my parents laugh as a way to keep myself from thinking about the race I had to do. Slowly, I started to see that I was truly happy when I did it, and that I was much less anxious. So, I started experimenting with different dance styles, as well as the different paces of songs. I’ve primarily listened to Japanese Idol music and, more recently, K-pop. All of the dances I have learned and practiced prior to performing at a meet and are specific to particular events, as well as how high I want my heart rate right before my race. So, for a longer race like the 1500, I will want a slightly slower and more calm song, than for the 400, which I need my heart rate to be higher for. If you want to check out my playlist, the link is on my social media profiles!
How do you balance it all? Swim, school, life?
Very carefully! I have to remain very organized, and am a big journaller! I actually use 2 journals daily, along with my google calendar to keep track of swim meets, calls, tasks, and any swim clinics I may be participating in. I also use a bullet journal to keep track of my mental health, which really has been a game changer these past couple of years. I am able to put all my thoughts onto a page, so they are not stuck in my head, where they shouldn’t be. I always encourage people I talk with to try it out, because I think it is a great resource. I also carve out time each week where I am not allowed to do any administrative work, or practicing. I think it is really important to take some time to relax and do things that make you happy, so that once you get back to work, you have a fresh mind to get the job done right.
Favorite Zealios product?
Another tough question! I love all the shower products and lotions, since they are focused on repairing hair and skin from the chlorine, but I mostly use the Sun Barrier on a daily basis given where I live! Arizona is obviously very sunny, which is lovely, except when I have to practice outside, which is most of the time. Sun Barrier incredibly lasts my entire practice, and protects my very pale skin. The Arizona sun can produce a UV index of 11, so it is really important for me to protect my skin while I’m in the pool at optimal sun exposure times. Since I began using Sun Barrier, I have honestly not gotten burnt at all, which is a game changer for me since I can tend to forget to reapply during my workout. If you are an endurance athlete who lives in a sunny area, Sun Barrier is the Holy Grail of sunscreen!