For Ralph Schmitt of Canton, the past week has been a whirlwind.
Schmitt, the father of 22-year-old Olympic swimmer, Allison Schmitt, said watching from the stands in London as his daughter July 31 was "surreal."
"It was just pure excitement," Ralph Schmitt said Monday, now back home in Canton. "When she won that first gold (in the 200-meter freestyle), we knew 25 meters to go there's no way she's going to be caught."
Ralph Schmitt said the moment was "amazing" to watch.
"But then again, it isn't amazing because she works so hard at it," he said. "That part of it is exciting."
That hard work began in local pools, where Allison Schmitt developed into an elite swimmer.
Josh Morgan, co-coach of the Plymouth-Canton Cruisers swim club, coached Allison Schmitt between the ages of 11 and 14 when he worked at the Ann Arbor Swim Club and said Schmitt showed plenty of potential early on, but she wouldn't reach elite status until late in her high school career.
"Back then she was always a good swimmer, but not as much as she is now," Morgan said last week while coaching the Cruisers at a meet in Oxford, OH. "She was a lighthearted kid and worked hard and did some pretty good things, but definitely not what she's doing now."
It was when Allison Schmitt shaved about five seconds off her time in the short-course 200 at a meet in Orlando, FL, that she entered into elite status, Morgan said.
"From there she kept rolling, showing a steady stream of improvement," Morgan said.
Schmitt's parents return to Canton
When Ralph Schmitt and his wife, Gail, arrived back in Michigan on Aug. 4, they were in no hurry to turn their phones back on when they left the airport. Allison Schmitt had been called up as a late replacement to anchor the women's 4x100 freestyle relay, and because NBC shows marquee Olympic events on tape delay during primetime, the Schmitts wanted to avoid spoilers from friends who read the results before the event aired on TV.
Allison Schmitt anchored the team to a , earning her third gold medal and fifth and final medal overall at this year's Olympics. The final tally: Three gold medals, and .
When the phones turned back on after the event aired, Ralph Schmitt said, "It was a lot of messages. I'm glad we didn't look at it beforehand."
With her third gold medal, Allison Schmitt medaled in each event she swam at this year's Olympic Games.
"Few people can make the Olympics," Ralph Schmitt said. "Fewer people can medal at the Olympics."
'Schmitty' prepares for homecoming in Canton
Ralph Schmitt said that while his daughter is a bona fide international star (her nickname "Schmitty" has ), she's very much the same person she's always been when she's with family.
"There's a little bit of disconnect between the person I see on television or the Internet and then the girl who lives in our house when she’s able to come home," Ralph Schmitt said. "It's tough to make that connection. There's that celebrity part of her, that athlete part of her (in the media). When she's at home, it's our daughter."
Allison Schmitt will remain in London through this week, her father said, so she can participate in closing ceremonies. Then, he said, she will come home to Canton for three days before embarking to the University of Georgia, where she attends school.
Canton Township officials are planning an event to welcome home and honor Allison Schmitt. According to township officials, the event will take place 6 p.m. on Aug. 14 at the Amphitheater. Additional details have not been finalized, however.
Ralph Schmitt said he suspects his daughter will appreciate the homecoming.
"If you asked Allison where she'd rather be, it's Canton," he said.
This story has been updated at 4:50 p.m. to include details about the homecoming event for Allison Schmitt in Canton.