IL Sprinter Maddie Smith Verbals to UNC Tar Heels

Maddie Smith of the Patriot Aquatic Club has verbally committed to the UNC Tar Heels‘ class of 2021. Smith is a sprinter hailing from Chicago’s northern suburbs, and is a current senior at Lake Forest High School (Matt Grevers’ alma mater).

I chose UNC because of the amazing balance between academics and athletics! I fell in love with the coaches, the team, and the school and I know it is the best place for me to grow as a student, an athlete, and a person. Can’t wait to be a part of the Tar Heel family! GO HEELS!

Smith is a rapidly-improving sprint freestyler, having dropping significant time in the 50, 100, and 200y freestyle races throughout her high school career. All of her best times have come in the last year.

Freshman Sophomore Junior
50y free 24.68 24.06 23.11
100y free 53.76 51.51 50.19
200y free 1:58.53 1:51.79 1:51.05
50m free 28.37 27.16 26.23
100m free 1:02.01 59.47 57.07

Smith finished 6th in the 50 free and 100 free at the 2015 IHSA State Champs last season. As a member of LFHS’s 400y free relay last year, she split a 50.64 to help them earn the state title in that event and break the IHSA record. The previous record belonged to Glenbrook South– 2016 Olympian Olivia Smoliga was a part of that relay. Smith was also part of the 200 free relay that finished in runner-up position last season.

According to Illinois Aquatics’ IHSA top times list this season, Smith’s 23.52 in the 50 and 51.76 in the 100 rank her #1 and #2 in state, respectively.

Smith’s right on the brink of ACC scoring in the 50 and 100 free, while she isn’t terribly far off of C final cut off in the 200 free. Considering how fast she’s already been in season, and the rate of improvement she’s seen in high school, Smith could come into the Tar Heel program even faster than she is now. With all of the sprint graduations UNC has seen in the last year, she’ll be a welcome addition in Chapel Hill.

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4 years ago

I don’t think the swim team has been implicated in anything, but when I read the bit about the “amazing balance” between academics and athletics at UNC Chapel Hill, I had to chuckle. Absolutely nothing against this swimmer or the swim team at UNC, but I don’t read sports news outside of SwimSwam and even I have heard all about UNC’s recent athletic-academic scandals.

Reply to  Sven
4 years ago


4 years ago

I happen to know that this particular student athlete and she is a National Merit Semifinalist. I doubt she will be caught up in any athletic/academic “scandal”. Perhaps you shouldn’t judge an entire institution and it’s programs based only on what “you’ve heard”.

Reply to  SUSAN
4 years ago

I think you’ve misunderstood my comment. As I said, I think it is only the football and basketball teams that have gotten in trouble with that stuff. Most student-athletes are honest, hard working, and accountable, there are just a select few who get wrapped up in academic scandals that cast a bad light on all of them. From what you know of this swimmer, it sounds like you are probably correct in saying she won’t be involved in any scandals. Good. UNC could use the help in restoring its reputation. I want to reiterate that nothing in my comment was intended to be a slight against the swimmer in question or the swim team at UNC. Just noting that the… Read more »

Reply to  Sven
4 years ago

Sven: I am a UNC grad, and it pains me to read your posts. What you write is an unavoidable, direct result of what happens when scandals occur – reputations are damaged deservedly or not. I doubt that even when the scandalous behaviour was at its worst ten, fifteen, years ago a swimmer benefited from the racket that the athletic department had created with certain administrators, teachers, and tutors to get failing football and basketball players passing grades. I think UNC has done a very good job of cleaning out the people responsible. Some have been punished. Many others were allowed to get out the door quietly. But at least they’re gone and safeguards have been put in place. UNC… Read more »

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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