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.
In the hunt for the 2019 Pro Swim Series crown, it’s been the backstrokers running the show.
The new series format awards the $10,000 prize to the top swim in FINA points for the entire series. The men’s leader has been Ryan Murphy‘s 100 back since the series opener in Knoxville. And this month, Athens Bulldog Olivia Smoliga took over the women’s lead with her 100 back, edging out former leader (and fellow 100 backstroker) Kathleen Baker.
Smoliga went 58.73 in Richmond this month, her new lifetime-best. That swim was worth 968 FINA points, topping the 59.17 (946 FINA points) put up by Baker back in Des Moines.
Smoliga’s swim ranks #3 in the world this year, one of just four swimmers to break 59 seconds. She had an outstanding Richmond meet, winning not only that 100 back, but the 50 back (27.89) and 50 free (24.83), plus taking 2nd in the 100 free (54.65).
That all added up to $5500 in prize money in Richmond, most among women at that meet, and one of the higher single-meet checks we’ve seen this season. Smoliga is currently #3 on the series in overall money won with $11,500, behind only Michael Andrew ($20,000) and Hali Flickinger ($12,000).
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