Olivia Smoliga Drops 100 Back, Breaks Two Other Records at Illinois State Meet

Olivia Smoliga of Glenbrook South High School in Illinois will be to Missy Franklin next year what Rachel Bootsma was to Liz Pelton this year. Though without the same international acclaim, Smoliga is a phenomenal backstroker who will still be a primary target for every major college program in the country both because of her speed and versatility.

Her versatility was best on display at this weekend’s Illinois High School State Championships, where satisfied with her state record as a sophomore dropped the 100 back in favor of the 50 and 100 freestyles at this year’s meet.

This was a shocking decision to some, given that she was within a second of Bootsma’s National Record in the 100 back last season. But that doesn’t mean that her swims this year were any less impressive.

First in the 50 free, she broke twice the oldest record in Illinois swimming: the 50 free. First came a 22.66 in prelims, followed by a 22.55 in finals to cement her standing in the record-books. The old mark was set back in 1996 by future SMU Mustang Alison Wimer of Palatine High School at 22.78.

Next, in the 100 free, she crushed the old mark held by current Stanford All-American Betsy Webb with a 48.88 in prelims. Smoliga was a hair slower in finals (48.92), but still was a second ahead of Webb’s old mark of 49.92.

These times showed a huge progression for her, especially in the 100. That was roughly 4.4 seconds better than her previous fastest time, done in 2009, of 53.34. These swims make her ultimately more valuable to college programs and should vault her up many coaches’ wish-lists.

The question will be as to which events Smoliga will swim at next year’s State Championship meet. Her commitment is likely to be in writing by then, so there will be no big pressures in that regard, but her post-race comments indicate that the swim was as much about pride and proving what she was capable of as anything else. Still, if she adds back the 100 backstroke to her schedule, she will have a great chance of breaking the National High School Record as it stands now, with classmate Franklin likely to lower it between now and then anyways.

The runner-up in the 100 free, Virginia commit Samantha James of State Champions and hosts New Trier, nearly broke the Meet Record as well in 49.94. One of the other highlights of the meet was a 53.53 victory in the 100 fly from Mimi Schneider of Fenwick High. That swim vaulted her into the national recruiting eye, as she’s only a sophomore. She could be the swimmer that ultimately breaks Smoliga’s sprint records, given that last year as a freshman she swam 50.1 and 23.1.

Rachel Stoehr, who will be off to Arkansas in the fall, also took two individual wins – in the 200 free (1:49.16) and 500 free (4:50.14 – she was a few tenths faster in prelims).

Full PrelimsFinals results.


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9 years ago

It looks like Missy’s high school state finals are in Febuary. Then they both will have their senior state finals next year, if they both swim. Any word on that? Any rumors yet what colleges Olivia is considering? Heard rumors that Missy is doing some unofficial visits? Does that mean another early signing like Pelton?

John Sampson
9 years ago

i think missy will probably make a normal commitment like everyone else. Look at jasmine tosky, her of all people i think would sign early waited till almost the very end of early commiting.
I also think missy wont go to Cal, just an opinion, they have way to many backstrokers. And yes she can do almost any event she wants, but when it comes down to it shes a backstroker. And her recent developments in the 200 free could lean here towards the SEC. I personally see her going somewhere like Georgia or Florida. Her teammate Jordan Mattern is doing very well at Georgia, and thats got to say alot.
Now about Olivia Smoliga, would it surprise… Read more »

bobo gigi
9 years ago

Olivia Smoliga is a beast in yards with incredible underwaters like Cindy Tran. I think to the NCAA women’s 100 backstroke final in two years. Imagine behind the blocks Missy Franklin, Elizabeth Pelton, Rachel Bootsma, Cindy Tran, Elizabeth Beisel, Olivia Smoliga, Deborah Roth and Courtney Bartholomew! All these swimmers can swim under 51 seconds! It would be the best final of all time.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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