Smith Connor can credit the start of her swimming career to a hatred
for humidity. While she originally grew up in Seattle, she moved to
Virginia and would often go to the pool to keep cool. It was here that
she was spotted one day by a coach who asked her to swim a length of the
pool and then recruited her to the local summer swim team.
By the time
Kathy was 11, she had moved back to Seattle, was swimming year round,
and would continue to do so as a breaststroker and sprint freestyler
through college. Kathy would go on to swim at Stanford University and be
a member of the United States National Team for 7 years, competing and
medaling in the Pan American Games, World University Games, Pan Pacific
Games, and Goodwill Games, amongst others. She was also an alternate for
the United States Olympic Team in 1980 in the 200m Breaststroke.
Following her college days, Kathy has continued her connection with the
swimming world through her children, one of whom is now a competitive
swimmer, and lifelong best friend Mary Wayte Bradburne.
year she went to visit Mary in Seattle to watch her swim in the
inaugural Swim Across America Seattle event. To Kathy this was a
“glorious day” as she got to be involved in an atmosphere where swimmers
were fighting cancer stroke by stroke in Lake Washington. It was also a
very bittersweet day, bringing back many memories of loved ones that
have been touched by cancer. It was this event that has caused her to
passionately want to be a part of Swim Across America for many years to
Kathy will be swimming with her daughter Alayna, who is 10. Kathy swims
for her father who died of cancer 4 years ago after a hard fought 10
year battle. When he moved from the Seattle area to Portland for
treatment, Kathy eventually followed with her family in hopes that her
children’s memories of their grandfather would be strong.
also swims for her mom who is a breast cancer survivor and her sister
who had melanoma. She swims in the hope that they – and her children -
will never have to go through this fight again. As Kathy swims side by
side with her daughter at this year’s Seattle swim, she will be inspired
by all those around her as well as the fact that she will be swimming
in the exact waters that she once waterskied on with her father. She
hopes to bring as many swimmers as possible with her so that together
they can make waves to fight this terrible disease and become as
captivated with the swim as she did herself last year.