Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.
Northwestern senior Maddie Smith has had an incredible Big Ten Championships.
On day 1, the sprinter anchored Northwestern’s 200 medley relay in 21.45 – the best freestyle split of the entire field for a Northwestern relay that finished as Big Ten runners-up. On day 2, Smith cracked 22 individually in the 50 free with a 21.94 that earned her third place overall. Later that night, she came through with a heroic anchor leg on the 400 medley relay, smashing a 47.00 (once again, the fastest in the field) to run down Michigan for second and very nearly overtake Ohio State for the win.
On the morning of day 3, she dropped her 100 fly career-best from 53.8 to 52.4, qualifying for the Big Ten A final, and she cut another four tenths of a second in the final to take 3rd overall in 52.09 – that’s just a tenth off what it took to score at NCAAs in 2019.
Smith still has Friday night’s 200 free relay, plus the 100 free and 400 free relay on Saturday to round out her month.
She’s shown incredible improvement for Smith from last year’s Big Ten performances. She didn’t even score in the 50 free last year, and was just a B finalist in the 100 free and 100 fly. Here’s a look at Smith’s swims from this week compared to last year’s Big Ten Championships:
|2020 Big Tens||2021 Big Tens|
|50 free (split)||22.07||21.45|
|100 free (split)||48.34||47.00|
*Smith still has swims in those events remaining.
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