Olivia Smoliga

Olivia Smoliga (born October 12, 1994) is an American competition swimmer who specializes in backstroke and freestyle events. She currently holds the American record in the 50-meter backstroke (short course). At the 2016 Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, she won a gold medal for swimming in the preliminary heat of the 4x100-meter medley relay.

Olivia Smoliga
Personal information
Full nameOlivia Smoliga
National teamUnited States
Born (1994-10-12) October 12, 1994
Glenview, Illinois
Height6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight74 kg (163 lb)
StrokesBackstroke, freestyle
College teamUniversity of Georgia

Personal life

Her parents, Tomasz and Elżbieta Smoliga, emigrated from Poland in 1991. She has a younger brother, Matt, who plays hockey.[1] After graduating from Glenbrook South High School in 2013, Smoliga attended the University of Georgia on athletic scholarship, where she swam for coach Jack Bauerle's Georgia Bulldogs swimming and diving team for four years.[2]

Swimming career

2012: Breakthrough

At the 2012 United States Olympic Trials, the qualifying meet for the 2012 Olympics, Smoliga missed the Olympic team by finishing fourth in the 100-meter backstroke (1:00.46) and twenty-third in the 50-meter freestyle (25.66).[3][4] During the semifinals, Smoliga swam a personal best of 59.82 breaking the long course one-minute barrier for the first time.[5]

At the Illinois State High School Championships in November 2012, Smoliga broke the national high school records in both the 100-yard backstroke (51.43) and 50-yard freestyle (21.99).[6]

At the 2012 FINA Short Course World Championships in Istanbul, her first major international competition, Smoliga won a total of four medals: two gold, one silver, and one bronze. In the 100-meter backstroke final, Smoliga surprised the field by winning gold in a time of 56.64 swimming from lane 1. In the last 50-meters, Smoliga had the fastest split in the field with a time of 29.74.[7] Smoliga also earned gold in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, silver in the 50-meter backstroke (in which she set the American record), and bronze in the 4×100-meter medley relay.

2013-2015: NCAA Championship, Pan American Games

Smoliga has won the 2013-14 NCAA Women's Division I Swimming and Diving Championships with the Georgia Bulldogs, with a gold at the 50yd freestyle, and bronze at the 400yd medley relay.[8]

She was struck with mononucleosis prior to the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships, leading her to bad results in both that championship and the 2015 NCAA tournament. However, being the fifth best time at the 100m backstroke, she retained her spot at the national swimming team, and was qualified for the 2015 Pan American Games.[9] She won the silver at the 100m backstroke with a 1:00.06, her third fastest time ever.[10]

2016: Rio Summer Olympics

At the 2016 United States Olympic Trials, Smoliga qualified for the Olympics by winning the 100m backstroke with a time of 59.02. In doing so, she beat out the previous two Olympic gold medallists in the 100m backstroke, Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin.[11]

In Rio, Smoliga finished sixth in the individual 100m backstroke with a time of 58.95, a personal best.[12] Her American teammate Kathleen Baker won a silver medal with a time of 58.75. Smoliga also swam on the prelims relay of the 4 × 100 m medley relay, and won a gold medal when the finals lineup of Baker, Lilly King, Dana Vollmer, and Simone Manuel touched first.


  1. "Glenview Patch". Patch Network. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  2. Tribune/WGN-Ch. 9 2012-13 Athlete of the Year | Glenbrook South's Olivia Smoliga
  3. "2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials (swimming) – Women's 100 metre backstroke (final)". Omega Timing. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  4. "2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials (swimming) – Women's 50 metre freestyle (heats)". Omega Timing. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  5. "2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials (swimming) – Women's 100 metre backstroke (semifinals)". Omega Timing. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  6. "Glenview Patch". Patch Network. Retrieved 2012-12-13.
  7. "U.S. Wins More Swimming Gold Medals". New York Times. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012.
  8. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia Dogs
  9. "With confidence waning, Olivia Smoliga looks to Pan Am Games for boost". Chicago Tribune. 16 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  10. "Glenview swimmer Smoliga gets Pan Am Games silver". Chicago Tribune. 17 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  11. D'Addona, Dan (28 June 2016). "Glenbrook South grad Olivia Smoliga wins 100 back at Olympic trials". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  12. "Bulldog Olivia Smoliga finishes sixth in 100 Backstroke". Retrieved 2016-09-15.
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