Ambitions and Adventures in Life!
My name is Dirk Smith; I am an openly gay swimmer and I am training to compete at the 2018 Gay Games in Paris. In addition I am saving money to help move to Germany to pursue Graduate School
In 2015 I reached the podium at a national championships for the first time in my life when I won 2 gold and 1 bronze medal at the USMS Spring Nationals in San Antonio. Since then I've been training hard and working to build on my skills and abilities both in and out of the water.
I had been in the water for as long as I remember; from my mom dropping me off at the rec center to swim during her aerobics classes to joining a youth swim team. I took a few years off in high school. 7 years ago I decided I needed a change, I wasn’t happy with my life or myself, I was over weight, depressed and just not comfortable with who I was or where my life was going. I realized that there was so much more out in the world and that I had the potential to be apart of something bigger than I could ever imagine.
I was out as a gay man at the time and all I had desired and dreamed of up until that moment was finding a boyfriend and be as happy and loving as all the relationships you tend to see other people in, but that wasn’t quite working for me. When the 2008 Olympics happened I realized just what it was that I had been missing and from there I wanted to do something for myself, something more. At that moment I decided I wanted to be an Olympic Athlete, I was ready to experience the emotion of joy and accomplishment that comes from realizing your dreams.
In the 8 years since that moment my life has changed dramatically. I got back into swimming as my sport and started looking at what exactly did I need to do in order to accomplish my goals and dreams. My first real step forward I decided to join a swim team, an LGBT swim team to be precise. To be honest, it was quite a scary endeavor. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough or ready, I had never really been that involved with the gay community and I knew absolutely nobody. Despite exchanging a few emails with the coach I was essentially going in blind.
It was my first real test, to be able to go further, you have to face your fears and step outside your comfort zone. From my first day with the Squids I have gone on to be experience some great things, in the gay community and the overall swimming and athletic community. Having been involved and medaled (several times) at both the 2010 and 2014 Gay Games, becoming more involved in a non-profit to help support LGBT athletes such as myself and actively promoting to create awareness and end homophobia and transphobia that continues to exist in sport.
I am truly passionate about LGBTQ+ sport and what it can accomplish for our community and movement. Simply by hosting an LGBTQ+ focused (but not exclusive) sporting event, the Gay Games in it's 35+ year history has accomplished a lot to help advance LGBTQ+ causes by helping to empower LGBTQ+ athletes and building confidence and self esteem. Taking that confidence, self esteem and with a little bit of courage, athletes can return to their communities as a beacon of hope and inspiration to empower their communities as well as our LGBTQ+ to have more confidence and courage to stand up for what we believe in.
My ambitions and pursuits as an athlete have never been about making a statement with my sexuality or even to let my sexuality define who I am as an athlete. It has simply been about pushing my limits, taking on new challenges and becoming a confident, stronger, more well-rounded individual.
Becoming involved with swimming again has helped to truly define who I am as a person. I am comfortable and happy with myself not only as a gay man but as an athlete, as a professional and as a human being. By taking that one big step to my first practice I became involved in much more that I can imagine and realize that my purpose in this world is to have a positive impact, even for just a moment to inspire another to make a positive change in pursuit of their goals and dreams. For that I am ready for the next step on my journey.
My Recent Athletic Accomplishments include...
-2017 IGLA Championships: 1 Gold, 1 Silver, 1 Bronze
-2017 Spring Nationals: 1 Bronze
-2016 Summer Nationals: 1 Gold, 1 Silver
-2016 IGLA Championships- 2 Gold, 5 Silver, 2 Bronze
-2016 Spring Nationals: 1 Silver
-2015 EuroGames Stockholm: 2 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze Medal.
-2015 USMS Spring National Championships: 2 Gold, 1 Bronze Medal
-2014 Gay Games: 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 3 Bronze Medals
-2014 USMS Spring National Championships: Top 10
-2013 IGLA: 2 Bronze Medals
-2011 IGLA: 3 Gold, 2 Silver, 1 Bronze Medal
=2011 & 2012 ECC National Swimming Championships: Top 10
-2010 Gay Games: 3 Gold & 3 Silver Medals
I am a regular contributor and writer for Compete Magazine , Federation of the Gay Games , MileHighGayGuy and Healthy Gay Lifestyles where I often share my experiences as an athlete as well as my knowledge as a coach, personal trainer and exercise professional!
I am also going to be attending my first ever Federation of the Gay Games Annual General Assembly in a month in Ireland and coming back to help the non-profit Team Colorado USA: LGBT Sports Commission of Colorado in furthering our goals of supporting LGBT athletes and encouraging more people to participate.
I am currently studying for my National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialization so that I can start working more with athletes and my eventual goal of doing Strength and Conditioning Coaching for LGBT sports teams with my business, Stonewall Fitness.
While there is much going on and definitely much to do (and it won't be easy!) I am excited for these opportunities to take part and continuing to do my best to have a positive impact on the LGBT community.
I hope you'll help sponsor me in my endeavors I really appreciate all the love and support everybody has given me thus far on my journey. www.gofundme.com/bttrflyr
Each challenge is another hurdle toward the finish line. I live on constantly pushing myself toward the next challenge and focused on what lies ahead. It's important to take a moment and live in the present, to truly understand just what each accomplishment really means and how indeed it impacts the journey.
I always fear that sharing in my accomplishments and showing my medals (or pictures) might cross the line from celebrating to bragging or seemingly put myself on a pedestal above everybody else. However I understand and that it is my intention that my own journey and progress be a source of inspiration for another. As I was on my flight home from the 2014 Gay Games the flight crew held a little medal ceremony for me during the flight, they used the intercom system to tell the full plane about my medals and then had me come up to the front for a little medal ceremony.
Talking with the crew later on I told them how sweet it was that they did that for me and that I never had that done before. They encouraged me to keep doing what I am doing and pursuing my goals, and that it was important that they recognized my accomplishment, for even if it inspires just one person on that plane or in my community.