Leah Smith (swimmer)

Leah Smith (born April 19, 1995) is an American competition swimmer who specializes in freestyle events. Smith is a member of the 2016 US Women's Olympic Swimming team, and won a bronze medal in the 400 m freestyle and a gold medal in the 4 × 200 m relay at those games.

Leah Smith
Smith in 2018
Personal information
National team United States
Born (1995-04-19) April 19, 1995
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Height5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight148 lb (67 kg)
College teamUniversity of Virginia

Personal life

Smith was born in Pittsburgh to a family of many elite athletes. She is a great-granddaughter of World Series champion baseball player Jimmy Smith and great-niece of boxer Billy Conn.[1] Her sister Aileen currently swims for Columbia University.

A graduate of Oakland Catholic High School, Smith committed to swim for the University of Virginia in 2013.[2]


College career

Smith attended the University of Virginia, where she competed for the Virginia Cavaliers swimming and diving team.[3] At the 2015 NCAA Championships, she won both the 500-yard freestyle and the 1,650-yard freestyle. Smith repeated as NCAA Champion in both the 500-yard freestyle and the 1650-yard freestyle at the 2016 NCAA Championships.[1][4] Smith was awarded the IMP Award as the top female athlete at the University of Virginia at UVa's Annual Awards Dinner.[5]


At the 2014 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, Smith won a gold medal and set a championship record as a member of the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay. She was also 9th in both the 400 m freestyle & 800 m freestyle.[6] She then went on to win both the 400 m freestyle and the 4 × 200 m freestyle at the 2015 Summer Universiade (World University Games).[7]


Smith represented the United States at the 2015 World Aquatics Championships where she won a gold medal in the 4 × 200 m freestyle relay.[8] She placed second in the 400 m freestyle event and the 800 m freestyle events at the 2016 Olympic Trials. With only 26 spots on the Women's Olympic Swimming Team, second place athletes are not guaranteed to qualify unless and until someone qualifies for more than one event. But in the United States "there has never been an occasion where the top two swimmers in each event, along with the top six swimmers in the 100 m and 200 m free, haven’t made the team."[9] On July 3, 2016, Smith was named to the US Olympic Team.[10]


At the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, the U.S. qualifying meet for the Rio Olympics, Smith qualified for the U.S. Olympic team for the first time by finishing second in both the 200- and 400-meter freestyle events behind Katie Ledecky and third in the 200-meter freestyle.

In 2016, Smith competed at the Rio Olympic Games. She won a bronze medal in the 400-meter freestyle with a 4:01.92, behind Jazmin Carlin and Ledecky. Along with Ledecky, Maya DiRado, and Allison Schmitt, Smith won her first ever Olympic gold medal in the 4x200-meter freestyle relay. She had split 1:56.69 en route to a first-place finish in 7:43.03.

Personal bests

Long Course

Event Time Meet Location Date Notes
200 m freestyle 1:55.97 2017 World Championships Budapest, Hungary July 27, 2017 (r)
400 m freestyle 4:00.65 2016 US Olympics Trials Omaha, Nebraska June 27, 2016
800 m freestyle 8:17.21 2018 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships Tokyo, Japan August 9, 2018
1500 m freestyle 16:01.02 2017 US Nationals Indianapolis, Indiana July 1, 2017
400 m Individual Medley 4:33.86 2017 US Nationals Indianapolis, Indiana June 29, 2017


  1. "Bio: Leah Smith". University of Virginia. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  2. "Leah Smith Bio". SwimSwam. Retrieved July 29, 2017.
  3. "Class of 2017: Olympic Gold Medalist Smith Breaks Barriers in Women's Athletics". UVA Today. May 10, 2017. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  4. "National Team Bios: Leah Smith". USA Swimming. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  5. "2016 UVa Annual Awards Dinner".
  6. "Meet Results: 2014 Pan Pacific Championships". Swimming Australia. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  7. "UVa swimmer wins two gold medals at World University Games". The Daily Progress. July 7, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  8. "List of American Medalists at the 2015 World Championships". USA Swimming. August 9, 2015. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  9. Jim Rusnak. "First Pool Swimmers Added to 2016 Olympic Roster". USA Swimming.
  10. "2016 US Olympic Team Roster" (PDF). USA Swimming.
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