Swimming and Diving: Olivia Smoliga Earns Gold at Rio

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Swimming and Diving: Olivia Smoliga Earns Gold at Rio

UGA swimmer and Olympian, Olivia Smoliga
Olivia Smoliga during the NCAA Championships at the McAuley Center in Atlanta, Ga., on Thursday, March 17, 2016. (Photo by Steven Colquitt

Georgia’s Olivia Smoliga earned a gold medal as a member of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay on Saturday at the Olympics.
Georgia’s swimmers ended the Games with a total of nine medals.
Smoliga, a rising senior, earned her first Olympic medal by virtue of her work during Friday’s prelims. She led off with a 100-meter backstroke time of 59.57 as the relay secured the top seed for Saturday with a time of 3:54.67.
On Saturday, the United States stopped the clock in 3:53.13 to snare first place over Australia (3:55.00) and Denmark (3:55.01).
Rising senior Chantal Van Landeghem anchored Canada’s relay with a 100-meter freestyle leg of 53.16. Canada finished fifth with a time of 3:55.49.
Georgia finished the Games with one gold and one silver for Allison Schmitt; one gold each for Smoliga, Melanie Margalis and Gunnar Bentz; one silver for Chase Kalisz; and one bronze each for Van Landeghem, Brittany MacLean and Amanda Weir.
Schmitt, who served as a team captain in Rio, ended her Olympic career with a UGA-best eight medals, including four golds to tie Teresa Edwards for the most in school history. When Kalisz took second in the 400-meter individual medley, he became Georgia swimming’s first male medalist. Bentz then became the first Bulldog swimmer to earn a gold medal (and just the third UGA male overall, joining track’s Spec Towns and basketball’s Vern Fleming) as a member of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
Americans Smoliga, Kalisz, Bentz and Jay Litherland and Canadians Van Landeghem and Javier Acevedo appeared in their first Olympics. They will participate on Georgia’s squads during the 2016-17 season, which begins Oct. 7 at North Carolina.
Georgia had eight American swimmers at the Games (the most in school history) and 12 swimmers overall (third most). In addition, Coach Jack Bauerle served as an assistant coach for the U.S. men’s team.
Representing Brazil for the fourth time in the Olympics, Georgia volunteer diving coach César Castro will compete Monday and Tuesday on 3-meter springboard. Georgia head diving coach Dan Laak is one of Brazil’s coaches for the Games.

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.

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