Virginia rising senior Leah Smith had a tremendous night of swimming on Monday night by posting a personal record and the second-highest fastest time in the world this year in the 400m free at 4:00.65. She finished second in the Olympic Trials behind only 400m free world record-holder Katie Ledecky, becoming the first Virginia swimmer this year to qualify for the Olympic Games on Team USA.
Did you miss it? Watch Ledecky and Smith’s absolutely dominating performance all over again:
Following Monday morning’s prelims, Smith talked in an interview with Swimming World Magazine about the pressure this year compared to four years ago, when she didn’t make any finals of the swim trials. For her, “it’s a lot different than four years ago, but I’m trusting in my training and trusting in the meets I’ve been doing this year. ... It’s just another swim meet.”
And what was Smith’s reaction afterwards?
“I mean, I saw [Ledecky’s] feet, so that was pretty cool. I’m never that close!”
Since the 2012 swim trials, Smith has seen tremendous improvement in her times, and alongside the improvement comes a lot of hardware, including becoming the world champion in the 4x200m free relay at the FINA World Championships, as well as the 2015 and 2016 NCAA champions in both the 500m free and 1,500m free in both years.
Virginia has had a swimmer at each Olympiad since the 1996 Atlanta Games. A total of 34 swimmers with ties to Virginia are competing in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials:
Alumni (3): Shaun Casey (’15), Ed Moses (’00), Ellen Williamson (’15)
Rising Seniors (5): Kaitlyn Jones, Matt Lockman, Austin Quinn, Shannon Rauth, Leah Smith
Rising Juniors (7): Caitlin Cooper, Jessie Gvozdas, Jennifer Marrkand, Henrik Pohlmann, Laine Reed, Dina Rommel, Cece Williams
Rising Sophomores (13): Alex Albracht, Brendan Casey (redshirt), Eryn Eddy, Zach Fong, Dan Golczewski, Matthew Hrabchak, Bryce Keblish, Sam Magnan, Megan Moroney, Rachel Politi, Kasey Schmidt, Sara Stranick, Vivian Tafuto
Incoming Freshmen (6): Ryan Baker, Morgan Hill, Ted Schubert, Mary Claire Tansill, Madeleine Vonderhaar, Kyle Ward