Madyson Cox Test
A gold medal and a sixth place in her individual Olympic event in Rio left University of Georgia standout Olivia Smoliga motivated for more. For Olivia, and so many others, that journey back to the mountaintop starts with the climb in Indianapolis at U.S. Nationals. She talks about going out as a senior at Georgia with two NCAA team titles in four years, and three more individual all-American honors as a senior this year -- and how Nationals is the springboard to what is next in her life, in this week’s 20 Question Tuesday.
1 Are you surprised by how much excitement is surrounding these Nationals?
Olivia: Oh my gosh, I think it’s really exciting. Part of it is that there is this shift that started last summer, with younger swimmers stepping up. A lot of kids just graduating high school -- Reece Whitley, who I love, is in that bunch and I’m a fan of is -- is among those. So there’s that group aroudn 17-18 years old, and then two or three years older there are all these college-age swimmers who made the Olympic team or are ready to step up and make Worlds. But you have so many veterans who are ready to come back, like Matt Grevers, who is still in this and swimming fast as heck -- I’m a huge fan of his, too. I think the coolest thing from my perspective is seeing how college athletes are making a big mark now, as big as I can remember. The level of college swimming is so high nation-wide, and NCAAs is the hardest meet you will ever go through physically.
2 I can’t remember seeing so many college students on the psyche sheets, how cool is that?
Olivia: I am really excited to see what college swimmers do at this Nationals. Katie Ledecky is having an effect on college swimming like Michael Phelps has had on all of swimming -- they see her at Stanford and it’s so good for college swimming, for people to see what she’s doing.
You have college students like Katie, Simone, Ryan Murphy -- all these people kids look up to. And the pros are like, “I don’t want these young-uns to beat me.” Look at David Plummer at Trials last year, 35-years-old, married and two kids, up against Ryan Murphy, who was coming off his junior year of college. What a cool thing for USA Swimming. My Dad’s favorite was Tony Ervin, also 35, and I think my Dad was most excited seeing Tony win a gold medal. So it’s good for the U.S., and good for swimming, to have so much talent at such different stages in life, and their careers.