Girls Swimming: Glenbrook South star Smoliga set to ‘go out with a bang’
Olivia Smoliga of Glenbrook South is overjoyed after beating the state record in the the 50-yard freestyle at the IHSA Girls Swimming State Finals on Nov. 18, 2011, at New Trier High School. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Divers to Watch
Stephanie Marchuk ,
New Trier, sr.
Marchuk collected four medals at State last year. The runner-up in both the 200-yard freestyle and 500 free is among the championship contenders this year following the graduation of Lake Forest’s Rachel Stoehr.
Evan Swenson ,
A State runner-up in the 50 free as a junior, Swenson should be ready to contend for state titles after a busy summer, which included a trip to the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.
Jessica Sutherland ,
New Trier, sr.
Part of New Trier’s state-title team from a year ago, Sutherland swam to second place in the 100 backstroke as a junior and was a contributor on two relay teams that finished in the top three.
Maria Jardeleza ,
Jardeleza made a splash in her first high school season by qualifying for the state meet in two individual events, including the 100 butterfly.
Riley Hayward ,
New Trier, sr.
Hayward, one of the best all-around swimmers in the area, was a factor last year at the state meet in two individual events and one relay.
Juliette Corboy ,
North Shore Country Day, sr.
The area’s top performer on the board last year after placing third at the state meet, Corboy will shoot for a state championship this season.
Additional players to watch:
Maddy Coffey, Maine South, sr.
Marta Considine, Loyola, jr.
Kelly Cordes, Glenbrook South, so.
Campbell Costley, New Trier, sr.
Colleen Doolan, Glenbrook North, so.
Kimmy Durkin, Glenbrook South, sr.
Maddie Jardeleza, Loyola, sr.
Alyssa Kaewwilai, Maine East, fr.
Rosselyn Lopez, Evanston, jr.
Olivia Loucks, New Trier, sr.
Kara Lucenti, New Trier, jr.
Susannah Mulhern, Evanston, sr.
Molly Orbon, Glenbrook North, sr.
Christina Park, Glenbrook North, sr.
Taylor Patterson, New Trier, sr.
Abigail Rosenberg, Glenbrook N., so.
Maddy Savage, Evanston, sr.
Edan Scott, Niles West, jr.
Katie Wells, Glenbrook South, so.
Niki Wells, Glenbrook South, sr.
Jenna Zitkus, Maine South, jr.
Updated: September 24, 2012 7:40AM
GLENVIEW — One sign of Olivia Smoliga’s growing celebrity came on June 16, when her hometown of Glenview hosted a send-off party before she left to compete in the Olympic Trials, in Omaha.
The Glenbrook South girls swimming star figured only a few people would attend, but over 150 showed up, including a woman who asked to take a picture with the, “future Olympian.”
Smoliga narrowly missed making the Olympic team, finishing fourth in the 100-meter backstroke. She swam a personal-best 59.82 in the semifinals, which was the eighth-fastest time in the world at that point this year, and her finals time of 1:00.46 was just 0.97 shy of making the cut. Only the top two finishers in each event made the team, and those slots went to Missy Franklin, who won four gold medals in London, and Rachel Bootsma.
“It was pretty discouraging, but it was an awesome experience swimming at Trials,” said Smoliga, who raced against her idol, Natalie Coughlin, a 12-time Olympic medalist. “It was hard (missing the cut), but 2016 is the target now. I’ll be more confident, and stronger.”
But thoughts of Rio are on the back burner, as Smoliga prepares for her much-anticipated senior year of high school. The state meet, in November, will be the last chance for area swimming enthusiasts to see Smoliga in person before she hits the college and international scene.
“It definitely is like a victory lap,” Smoliga said. “It’s my senior year. I feel I’m so much stronger than last year. It’s going to be sweet. I just want to go out with a bang.”
Smoliga, the first girls to hold three IHSA state records concurrently, already is being ranked with former Rosary star and U.S. world championship team member Mary DeScenza as the best prep swimmer in state history.
“(Smoliga) is going to be a rock star,” said Rosary coach Bill Schalz, who coached DeScenza. “She will win whatever event she swims. She is that good.”
The two individual events in which Smoliga will participate are yet to be determined. Two years ago, she set a state record in the 100-yard backstroke (53.43) and won the 50 freestyle. Last season, Smoliga established new marks in winning the 50 free (22.55) and 100 free (48.88).
Smoliga’s long-time goal is to try to break Bootsma’s national backstroke record of 51.53, but she is also close to national marks in the 50 (22.04) and 100 (48.33).
Regardless, Smoliga knows the spotlight will be trained upon her — and she’s ready.
“The state meet is a huge deal,” said Smoliga, who can equal DeScenza’s six individual titles if she wins two this season. “People feed off the excitement of the state meet, so I want to put on a show.”
Glenbrook South coach Kelly Timson, whose team expects to contend for its first state trophy, sees Smoliga on the same path as former Lake Forest star Matt Grevers, who as a senior set state records in the backstroke and 50 free, in 2003, before carving out an outstanding career at Northwestern University, as well as winning Olympic gold medals in Beijing and London.
That makes for a lofty comparison, but Smoliga — who plans to visit colleges such as Texas, Arizona, Georgia and USC in September — wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I definitely set my expectations high, because if I didn’t I couldn’t do my best,” said Smoliga, who represented the U.S. at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Hawaii last week. “I’m right there (on the cusp of making the Olympics).”