Olivia Smoliga

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Olivia Smoliga is a 2x Olympian for the United States. She won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games and a record 8 gold medals at the 2018 Short Course World Championships

2016 Olympic Champion Olivia Smoliga was born to parents Tomasz and Elżbieta Smoliga, both of whom emigrated from Poland in 1991. She was born on October 12, 1994 in Glenview, Illinois. Growing up she swam on the Glenview Titan Aquatic Club. For high school Smoliga attended Glenbrook South High School and in her senior year, in November 2012, Smoliga broke the national high school records in the 100-yard backstroke (51.43) and the 50-yard freestyle (21.99) at the Illinois High School State Championships.

College Swimming (Georgia)

Smoliga committed herself to be a Georgia Bulldog under Head Coach Jack Bauerle for the 2013-2014 season.


As a freshman, Smoliga had five 1st place finishes at the 2014 SEC Championships in the 200-yard medley relay (1:35.52-split 23.78), the 50-yard freestyle (21.54), the 200-yard freestyle relay (1:27.09-split 21.80), the 100-yard freestyle (47.51), and the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:11.29-split 47.77). Smoliga went on to the 2014 NCAA Championships where she won the NCAA title in the 50-yard freestyle with a 21.59.


In her sophomore year at Georgia, Smoliga performed as one of the team’s top sprinters. Smoliga once again qualified for the NCAA Championships, this time in the 50-yard free, the 100-yard free and the 100-yard back where she earned a second swim in every event. Smoliga made the championship final in both the 50 free and the 100 back — her best finish came in the 100 back, where she touched in fifth place overall with a 51.67. Smoliga took the title in the semi-final of the 100 free, and finished 8th in the championship final of the 50 free.


Smoliga reclaimed her 50-yard freestyle NCAA title in her junior year and added a few more medals along the way too. She broke the meet, pool and NCAA record to touch first in 21.21. She went on to complete the sprint double finishing 1st in the 100-yard freestyle in 46.70. Smoliga also picked up a bronze and silver in the 400 and 200-yard freestyle relays respectively. The bulldogs made the finals in both medley relays with Smoliga leading off on the backstroke leg. In her final individual race, 100-yard backstoke, she finished 1st in the B final. However, her time of 50.58 would have been enough to claim 2nd in the A final.


Smoliga swam an impressive 21.27 in the 50 yard Free to finish second behind Simone Manuel, beating third place finisher, Liz Li by .o2 seconds. Smoliga lead off Georgia’s sixth place 400 Medley relay by splitting a 50.69 in the 100 backstroke. In the 100 back individual event, Smoliga finished second behind Kathleen Baker of Cal with a time of 50.04. In the 100 Free, Smoliga again finished second behind Simone Manuel with a time of 46.30. In the last event of the Championships, Smoliga lead Georgia to a second place finish behind Stanford, splitting a lead off time of 46.70.

National/International Swimming

Out of high school, Smoliga already had plenty of experience on the national and international stage.

2011 FINA Junior World Championships

In 2011 she attended the FINA Junior World Championships held in Lima, Peru. In Peru, Smoliga finished seventh in the 100-meter backstroke with a final time of 1:02.64, and fifth in the 50-meter backstroke with a final time of 29.20. Also in 2011, Smoliga competed at the At&T US Winter National Championships where she finished second in the 100-meter backstroke (1:00.58), right behind Missy Franklin.

2012 Olympic Trials

In Summer of 2012, Smoliga qualified to compete for a spot on the US Olympic Team at the 2012 US Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. At trials, she finished 23rd in her 50-meter freestyle (25.66), and fourth in her 100-meter backstroke (1:00.46), right behind elite backstrokers Missy Franklin, Rachel Bootsma, and Natalie Coughlin. In the semi-finals, Smoliga went a 59.82, breaking the minute barrier for the first time ever.

2012 Jr Pan Pacs

Several months later, Smoliga competed at the 2012 Junior Pan-Pacific Championships in Honolulu, Hawaii. Smoliga won gold in the 100-meter backstroke with a final time of 1:01.03, and silver in the 50-meter freestyle with a 25.39.

2012 Short Course World Championships

Later that year in December 2012, Smoliga competed at the 2012 FINA SCM World Championships in Istanbul, Turkey. Smoliga placed second in the 50-meter backstroke (26.13), first in the 100-meter backstroke (56.64), and third in the 400-meter medley relay (3:51.43). Smoliga was also a prelim swimmer for the first-place 400-meter freestyle relay.

2013 US Nationals

Smoliga qualified to compete at the 2013 World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. At Indy, Smoliga placed ninth in the 50-meter backstroke in a 28.64. She also placed fifth in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 1:00.38. In addition to the backstrokes, she also qualified to race the 50-meter freestyle where she finished in the top-twenty.

Smoliga was named to her second US National Team as a member of the 2013-2014 US National Team. During her year on the national team Smoliga competed at the 2013 Duel in the Pool where she finished first in the 100-meter backstroke (57.06), third in the 100-meter freestyle (52.74), fourth in the 50-meter freestyle (24.41), second in the 400-medley relay (3:51.38-split 57.53), and second in the 400-freestyle relay (3:28.96-split 52.19).

2014 US Nationals

At the 2014 Phillips 66 National meet, Smoliga finished third in the 50-meter backstroke (28.49) and fifth in the 100-meter backstroke (1:01.08). Based on her performances, Smoliga was selected for her third US National Team roster as one of the nations top 50 and 100 backstrokers for 2014-2015.

2015 U.S. Nationals

At the 2015 U.S. National Championships, which were held in San Antonio, Texas, Smoliga qualified for the championship final in both the 50-meter freestyle and the 100-meter backstroke. Smoliga came close to breaking 25 seconds in the 50 free, but her swim put her in 7th place. In the 100 backstroke she finished fifth overall, just a second behind the event winner — in September 2015 she was also named to the 2015-2016 U.S. National Team in the event.

2015 Pan American Games

After breaking the meet record in the prelims, Smoliga went on to take silver in the 100-meter backstroke in Toronto in 1:00.06.

2016 US Olympic Trials

Smoliga became a first time Olympian by winning the 100M Backstroke with a time of 59.02, the 4th fastest time in the World this year.

2016 Rio Olympics

Smoliga finished sixth in the finals of the Women’s 100M backstroke just 1/2 of a second behind Gold Medal Winner, Katinka Hosszu. Smoliga was awarded a Gold Medal for the 4×100 Medley relay after the US Women won based on her swim in the preliminaries in the event.

2017 US World Team Trials

Smoliga started the meet by finishing fifth in the 100M Free which may earn her a spot on the US Team depending on roster numbers. Refer to this link for selection criteria: https://swimswam.com/usa-2017-world-champs-selection-criteria-refresher/ . Smoliga secured her spot by finishing second in the 100M backstroke with a time of 59.17, just off her best time of 59.02.

Professional Career

In the fall of 2017, FINIS, Inc. announced they had signed 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion Olivia Smoliga. The Illinois native signed a long-term deal with the swim brand that extends through the 2020 Olympic Games.

“I am very excited to finally be joining team FINIS! They understand swimmers’ needs above all else- it isn’t ‘just business.’ They strive to make their athletes happy and a happy athlete is a successful one,” said Smoliga.

Olivia Smoliga Breaks Down The Georgia Pro Crew

2017 World Championships

Smoliga won a gold with the 400 free and medley relay and finished fourth in the 100 back at the 2017 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. She recorded a personal best 58.77 in the 100 back.

2017 Winter National Championships

Smoliga had a strong meet as she ended up on top of the podium twice in Columbus, Ohio. On day two, she out touched Margo Geer by 0.02 seconds to claim the top spot in the 50 freestyle. Her second win came in the 100 backstroke by a larger margin (1.05 seconds) with the time of 51.23.

2018 U.S. National Championships

Smoliga won the 50 backstroke at the Phillips 66 National Championships in 27.70, just 27 hundredths off her American record time from earlier in the year (27.43 at the TYR Pro Swim Series – Mesa, Arizona on April 14, 2018). She also was the runnerup in the 100 backstroke (58.75) and finished fifth in the 200 backstroke (2:08.58), 12th in the 100 freestyle (54.67) and 13th in the 50 freestyle (25.37).

2018 Short Course World Championships

On day 1, Smoliga led off the women’s 4×100 free relay, helping the women to gold over the world record holding Dutch women. On day 2, Smoliga swam prelims of the 4×50 mixed free relay, which went onto to earn gold in finals. That night, Smoliga pulled double duties, first leading off the women’s 4×50 medley relay which broke a world record (Smoliga’s split of 25.97 breaking an American record), and then claiming gold in the 100 backstroke (after breaking the American record in prelims with a 55.47). On day 3, Smoliga once again led off the American medley relay in finals, this time the 4×50 mixed relay. The relay went onto break the world record, and Smoliga’s split of 25.85 was a personal best (though didn’t count as an American record since it was on a mixed relay).

On day 5, Smoliga touched first in the 50 backstroke final, completing the 50-100 sweep and setting a new American record, 25.88. On the last day, Smoliga swam on the prelims of the women’s 4×50 free relay (which went on to win in finals), and finals of the women’s 4×100 medley relay, which also stuck gold, making it a perfect 8-for-8 gold medal meet for Olivia.

ISL – Cali Condors

On June 11, 2019, Olivia Smoliga was announced as a member of the Cali Condors ISL team, headed by GM Jason Lezak.

2019 World Championships

Smoliga won her first individual long course worlds medal on Day 3 of the 2019 worlds, touching for 3rd in a very tight 100 back field with a time of 58.91. She followed it up by winning her first long course title in the 50 back, touching the wall first in a time of 27.33, also breaking her own American record. Smoliga added to her medal haul in the 400 medley relay, swimming backstroke in prelims. The relay went on to win gold and set a world record in the finals.

2021 Olympic Trials

At her third Olympic trials, Smoliga came in as a favorite in the 100 back, albeit in a very tightly bunched field. She made it to the final, and in an extremely close race, Smoliga finished 3rd at 58.72, just .12 away from 2nd.

Two days later, Smoliga was back in the pool to swim the 100 free. In the semi-finals, she tied with her training partner Natalie Hinds for the top seed, both going best times of 53.55. In the final, Smoliga finished 3rd at 53.63, qualifying for her 2nd Olympic team.

Smoliga finished her meet in the 50 free, where she finished 26th at 25.69.

2021 Olympic Games

Smoliga started her meet off in the 4×100 free relay on Day 1, swimming the lead-off leg in prelims. She swam a 54.06, helping the US women secure a lane for the final, where they went on to finish 3rd place overall, netting Smoliga a bronze medal.

2023 U.S. International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)

Smoliga had a great start to trials. She posted a 53.31 personal best in the 100 free prelims for the 3rd seed. While she palace 4th in the final, she dropped a further .03 seconds to 53.28 to make her the #8 performer in American history. 

While she wasn’t able to qualify individually in any of her other races, she made A finals in all of them. In the 100 back, she placed 4th in 58.92, her first sub-59 second swim since the 2020(1) Olympic Trials. In the 50 free, she tied for 3rd with Kate Douglass. Her time of 24.48 is a new best time. In the 50 back, she palace 4th with a 27.65

2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)

After her resurgence at 2023 International Team Trials, Smoliga kept her momentum going through Worlds. On the prelims 400 free relay, Smoliga split a 52.91, well under her best time. This earned her a spot in the finals relay where she was even better with a 52.88 as the US took silver. In the prelims mixed 400 free relay, Smoliga split 53.30. The finals team took silver.

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2016 Olympic Games
Bronze 400 Freestyle Relay 2020 Olympic Games
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2017 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2017 World Championships
Gold 50 Back 2019 World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2019 World Championships
Bronze 100 Back 2019 World Championships
Silver 400 Freestyle Relay 2023 World Championships
Silver 400 Mixed Free Relay 2023 World Championships
Gold 50 Back 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 100 Back 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Freestyle Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Medley Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Mixed Free Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 200 Mixed Medley Relay 2018 Short Course World Championships
Gold 100 Back 2012 Short Course World Championships
Silver 50 Back 2012 Short Course World Championships
Bronze 400 Medley Relay 2012 Short Course World Championships
Silver 100 Back 2015 Pan American Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
lcm 50 Free 24.48 07/01/23 2023 International Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 100 Free 53.28 06/27/23 2023 International Team Trials
Indianapolis, Indiana
lcm 200 Free 1:57.04 05/14/21 2021 Atlanta Classic
Atlanta, Georgia
lcm 50 Back 27.33 07/25/19 2019 World Championships
Gwangju, South Korea
lcm 100 Back 58.31 05/15/21 2021 Atlanta Classic
Atlanta, Georgia
lcm 200 Back 2:08.58 07/26/18 2018 National Championships
Irvine, California
scm 100 Free 51.65 11/21/20 2020 ISL Final
Budapest, Hungary
scm 50 Back 25.74 10/16/20 2020 ISL - Match 1
Budapest, Hungary
scm 100 Back 55.04 11/22/20 2020 ISL Final
Budapest, Hungary
scy 50 Free 21.21 03/17/16 2016 NCAA D1 Championships
Atlanta, Georgia
scy 100 Free 46.30 03/18/17 2017 NCAA Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana
scy 100 Back 50.04 03/17/17 2017 NCAA Championships
Indianapolis, Indiana
Courtesy of Mine Kasapoglu for ISL With permission Courtesy of Mine Kasapoglu for ISL With permission Courtesy of Mine Kasapoglu for ISL With permission Olivia Smoliga (photo: Mike Lewis) Atherton, Masse, Smoliga - women's 100 back podium, 2019 Worlds. Courtesy: Swimming Canada/Joseph Kleindl Olivia Smoliga (photo: Jack Spitser) Courtesy of Finis. 2017