It’s official: UVA’s Leah Smith punches ticket to Olympics

uva leah smithUVA rising senior swimmer Leah Smith officially punched her ticket to the 2016 Olympic Games, finishing third in the women’s 200-meter freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Wednesday (June 29) at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.

Smith placed third in the 200m free in a time of 1:56.63, earning a berth on the American 4x200m free relay team. Katie Ledecky was first in 1:54.88, while Missy Franklin was second in 1:56.18. Smith placed second in the 400m free on Mondayand was fully expected to be added to the team following the conclusion of the meet.

“We are all thrilled for Leah,” UVA head coach Augie Busch said. “She is so deserving. She always steps up on relays so Team USA has a very reliable leg with her on the 4x200m free relay. She has totally stepped up and now has earned multiple swims in Rio. It is truly an incredible accomplishment for her and our program.”

Smith becomes the seventh Cavalier female swimmer and 15th overall UVA swimmer to earn an Olympic berth. Virginia has had a swimmer at every Olympiad since the 1996 Games in Atlanta.

The 4x200m free relay is an event Smith earned gold in at the 2015 FINA World Championships and 2014 Pan Pacific Championships. She also earned gold in the event, as well as the 400m free, at the 2015 World University Games.

For Virginia, Smith is a four-time NCAA Champion, winning the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle events in both 2015 and 2016. She is an 11-time All-American and 10-time ACC Champion.

Also in action Wednesday evening, rising junior Jennifer Marrkand (Westford, Mass.) placed ninth in the women’s 200m butterfly semifinals in 2:10.94, just missing out on the final by 0.27.

The U.S. Olympic Team Trials run through Sunday (July 3).

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