Cavalier Corner

December 2015 Issue

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Page 48 of 52

At age 10, third-year swimmer Leah Smith had a plan. "I mapped out things I wanted to do in swimming," Smith said. "I made a checklist. The first box I had was to make zones. Then it was sectionals. After that it was junior nationals. Then I wanted to make nationals, the Olympic Trials and the Olympics. "Since I was about 10, I pretty much knew what it would take to get to those places, but it wasn't realistic to check off all of those boxes." In retrospect, Smith might want to "re-visit" that check- list because she has: • Earned four international gold medals in various free- style events. • Captured two NCAA championships. • Amassed a total of seven All-America honors during the first two years of her career. • Compiled a total of seven ACC championships. • Twice been named to the U.S. National Team. Smith had an "interesting" reason for choosing to enroll at Virginia. "I was recruited heavily by Virginia," she said. "It was the lowest-ranked school I was looking at. I was looking at USC, Cal Berkley, Georgia Tech and Texas. At that time, all of those schools were ranked higher than Virginia. "Caitlin Jones, Laura Simon and I were the three best recruits Virginia was looking at. We decided we wanted to be a part of a school that was on the rise as opposed to a school that already had a lot of success on the na- tional level." Smith credits much of her success to her older sister, Aileen, and her Cavalier teammates. "When I was growing up, my sister swam for Columbia," Smith said. "I wanted to be like her and go fast like her. "When I got to Virginia, I would say the women's team. They push me every day in practice. We have intense workouts." Smith has a handle on what she must do in order to qualify for the Olympic team. "I'm learning how to swim smarter, so I can conserve energy in the prelims and go faster at night," she said. "My technique can get better including my turns and kick." — Mike Scandura ◆ Photo courtesy UVA cavalier profile LEAH SMITH Third-Year • Swimming

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