Olivia Smoliga was chosen as the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year and Chantal Van Landeghem was picked as the Co-Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year as the league announced its annual awards on Thursday.
Smoliga, a senior from Glenview, Ill., won the 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke titles at the SECs, plus she was on the victorious 200 and 400 freestyle and the 200 medley relays. She finished her career with 16 SEC titles to rank third in Georgia history. Smoliga also took second in the 50 freestyle and on the 400 medley relay at the SECs. She was Georgia’s top performer at the NCAAs, placing second in the 50 and 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke as well as second on the 400 freestyle relay, third on the 200 freestyle relay, sixth on the 400 medley relay and ninth on the 200 medley relay.
“I am really proud of Olivia for all she accomplished this season and during her career,” Georgia head coach Jack Bauerle said. “She’s been our go-to person the last couple of years, and she had another remarkable season. She’s a racer, she’s a gamer.”
The Lady Bulldogs now have earned the SEC Female Swimmer of the Year honor eight times – Kristy Kowal in 1998, 1999 and 2000; Kara Lynn Joyce in 2006 and 2007; Brittany MacLean in 2014 and 2016; and Smoliga in 2017.
Van Landeghem, a senior from Winnipeg, Manitoba, recently was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and became the first UGA student-athlete to win the Dean William Tate Award in recognition of a 4.0 GPA. She is a three-time CSCAA Scholar All-American and a Capital One/CoSIDA Third-Team At-Large Academic All-American selection. Van Landeghem came in second in the 100 freestyle, fifth in the 50 freestyle and 17th in the 100 backstroke and anchored the victorious 200 and 400 freestyle and 200 medley relays and finished second on the 400 medley relay at the SECs. She placed sixth in the 100 freestyle and eighth in the 50 freestyle as well as second on the 400 freestyle relay, third on the 200 freestyle relay, sixth on the 400 medley relay and ninth on the 200 medley relay at the NCAAs. Van Landeghem shared the Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor with Sarah Gibson of Texas A&M.
“Chantal takes her academics as seriously as she does her swimming, and that’s saying something considering she’s one of our best all-time swimmers,” Bauerle said. “She’s remarkable in every way. This is a well-deserved honor.”
Smoliga and Van Landeghem were named First-Team All-SEC, along with Chelsea Britt, Veronica Burchill, Emily Cameron and Meaghan Raab. Second-Team picks included Megan Kingsley, Meryn McCann, Kylie Stewart and Rachel Zilinskas. Burchill and McCann also made the All-Freshman Team.
On the men’s side, Pace Clark and Chase Kalisz were named First-Team All-SEC. Gunnar Bentz, Taylor Dale, Jay Litherland and Kevin Litherland were picked for the Second Team, while Javier Acevedo, Clayton Forde and Walker Higgins were chosen for the All-Freshman Team.