Olivia Smoliga Riding Wave of Momentum Heading into Worlds

Olivia Smoliga reacts after swimming a best time during the TYR Pro Swim Series. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The last time Olivia Smoliga stepped onto the blocks on the world stage, she had the most dominating performance of her career.

Smoliga won a record eight gold medals at the 2018 Short Course World Championships and re-established herself as one of the top swimmers in the world.

After making the 2016 Olympics, Smoliga took some time to get back to that level after graduating from the University of Georgia in 2017.

But after a dominating short-course worlds, she heads to the 2019 World Championships looking to continue that momentum.

“It boosted me a bunch. I keep looking back at (short-course worlds) to give me the boost if I am having a low day. It can get monotonous in the constant grind. I love it, but I really want to race and finally put everything together,” Olivia Smoliga told Swimming World. “When I look back, it is a good confidence boost, but six months later, I feel like I am a completely different athlete.”

But even more dangerous.

Smoliga swam her long-course personal best (58.73) in the 100 backstroke during the TYR Pro Swim Series in Richmond on April 12. That kind of speed during the middle of the season was a huge sign of the path Smoliga could be on.

“I came off of altitude training and was swimming so fast at practice after that before the Richmond meet. I just felt so good. I had blinders on with the freestyle-backstroke double. The 50 free surprised me. It is more mental than it is physical going back-to-back. I felt great. It just showed where I am at in training,” Olivia Smoliga said.

“It showed that when I taper, it will be even better. That is where my mentality is after that race. That race just felt so easy. It was the easiest 100 back I have ever had. I felt like I had been putting in the work, I am just going to show off. I felt that.”

It worked. Her performance in Richmond put her third in the world rankings in the 100 back.


Olivia Smoliga after swimming a best time in Richmond; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

She did not have that kind of a performance right before short course worlds, but she still dominated, winning gold in the 50 and 100 backstroke as well as the two sprint free relays, the two sprint medley relays, and the two mixed relays, swimming on the prelims relay in the 4×50 free and the mixed free.

In the 50 back, Smoliga touched first in 25.88 to break the American record in short course meters. She was faster later in the week leading off the 4×50 medley relay (25.85), although that time does not count officially because it came in a mixed relay event. She is the only American in history to break 26 seconds in the event in short course meters.

In the 100 back, Smoliga set the American record in the semi-finals (55.47), and won the race in the finals in 56.19.

She is looking to replicate some of those performances in the long course. In fact, she can’t wait to race again.

“I am just training and trying to keep focused. This has been our biggest block without a meet. I feel like I have cabin fever,” she said. “I want to race so badly and really see where I am at. I have all the confidence with training, but when it comes to racing, I want to get out there and go, so I am anxious to do that.”

In fact, she expects that out of herself.

“I am expecting really exciting things out of myself. I keep getting butterflies thinking about it,” she said. “I am so ready to just go and see what I can do. Everything just has to come together for me to feel absolutely centered and confident. That is what it is going to take. Then when it comes to race day, I’ll just rip one.”

More world championship meet coverage here. Check out the official meet page here.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Taylor Covington
4 years ago

Awesome!!! Love Olivia!!

Lorna Margaret Riley
4 years ago

Craig Jones new horse

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