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UVA swimmer Leah Smith wins silver at NCAAs

leah smith uvaUVA swimmer Leah Smith (Pittsburgh, Pa.) earned a silver medal in the 500-yard freestyle at the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships on Thursday.

Smith finished with the second fastest time in event history with a 4:28.90.

Smith would be the second swimmer in history to touch under the 4:30.00 mark, joining tonight’s gold medalist Katie Ledecky of Stanford (4:24.06) with the honor. Smith’s swim topped her previous UVA record by 1.47 seconds and shattered her morning swim, which surpassed the IU Natatorium pool record. Smith finished the event with her 11th All-America honor.

“I am so happy and excited for Leah to finally break the 4:30 barrier,” said head coach Augie Busch. “The way she raced Katie (Ledecky) was inspirational to all of us.”

UVA finished the day in 11th with 57 points. Stanford topped the competition with 213 points followed by California in second with 136 points.

In the 200-yard freestyle relay, the Cavaliers raced off the blocks to grab the 13th fastest time of the night. Caitlin Cooper (Atlanta, Ga.), Ellen Thomas (Guildford, United Kingdom), Morgan Hill (Olney, Md.), and Dina Rommel (East Amherst, N.Y.), respectively, reached the wall with a 1:28.58 to claim All-America Honorable Mentions. The four would earn their way into the consolation heat after clocking a 1:28.15, tying the third fastest school time in the event.

Virginia saw the 400-yard medley relay reach the B Finals to tally the 15th fastest time of the night. Kaitlyn Jones (Newark, Del.), Laura Simon (Simmern, Germany), Jennifer Marrkand (Westford, Mass.), and Thompson, respectively, touched with a 3:31.69 for All-America honorable mentions.

“In the team race, we’re just outside where we were hoping to be at this point,” said Coach Busch. “Tomorrow we have a lot of great opportunities that we need to capitalize on.

In the 200-yard individual medley, the Cavaliers placed Jones 21st overall (1:56.94).

Thomas and Cooper found a top 30 finish in the 50-yard freestyle, touching for the 24th and 29th overall finishes, respectively. Thomas raced to the wall for a 22.20 while Cooper clocked a 22.36.

Day three continues tomorrow with the 400-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle, 100-breaststroke, 100-backstroke, 200-medley relay, and the three-meter diving.

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