Girls Swimming: Glenbrook South’s Olivia Smoliga shatters state recordsOlivia 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 Friday, Nov 18 at New Trier High School. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 18, 2011 9:14PM
Olivia Smoliga added to her growing resume in dramatic fashion Friday during the preliminary round of the girls swimming state meet in Winnetka.
The Glenbrook South junior shattered the state records in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100 freestyle. Smoliga also set the state record in the 100 backstroke last year.
“I’m really happy with how I did,” Smoliga said. “I don’t know what I expected. I knew I was close to the 50 record, but I was just going out there and trying to race and swim as fast as I could.”
Smoliga is no stranger to that. She won state titles in the 50 and the backstroke last year and is poised to win both her races Saturday. Her 50 time of 22.66 broke the 15-year-old mark of 22.78 and her 100 mark of 48.88 lowered the previous record, held by Loyola’s Betsy Webb since 2007, by 1.04 seconds.
The decision not to defend her crown in the backstroke, where she is within striking distance of the national record, was not hard for Smoliga.
“My parents always have been and always will be a big influence on me and they wanted to see what I could do in the freestyle,” Smoliga said. “I did backstroke last year and I wanted to try something new.”
The switch to the 100 sets up an interesting battle between Smoliga and New Trier senior Samantha James, the defending champ. James, a Virginia recruit, had the second-fastest time, a personal-best 49.95.
“I’m excited to race her,” James said. “It will be a good opportunity and we’ll just see.”
Smoliga received a standing ovation after the 100 and even James said holding three state records is “really cool.”
“I try to soak it in as much as I can,” Smoliga said. “It means a lot because I know that Illinois is one of the fastest swimming states in the country and to have my name up there representing Illinois is really cool. It’s an honor.”
Smoliga would have been part of another record as she and Hallie Hengels, Kimmy Durkin and Katie Wells eclipsed the mark in the 200 medley relay with a 1:43.40, but Fenwick’s quartet of Maggie Sheean, Haley Wickham, Mimi Schneider and Maureen Barron set the new record in 1:42.50.
Host New Trier is poised to defend its team title. The Trevians qualified 11 individuals, including two divers, to the finals and have all three relays in the championship heats. Their 400 free relay anchored by James timed 3:26.67, just .66 off the state record.
“I think we are [in good shape] but we definitely have a lot of work to do tomorrow so we’re excited,” James said. “I think we did what we needed to do.”
Lake Forest senior Rachel Stoehr has the top time in the 200 free 1:49.15) and 500 free (4.49.99). Other top seeds are Schneider in the 100 butterfly, Rosary’s Sarah Sykstus in the 200 individual medley (2:03.64), Loyola’s Michelle Garland in the 100 breaststroke (104.76) and Downers Grove North’s Gabby Sims in the backstroke. Deerfield’s Erin Purdy leads the diving with 282.05 points.