"30 Features in 30 Days". Brookfield’s Maddy Smart Growing as a Swimmer at UVA. Story by John Torsiello.
By, JOHN TORSIELLO
Always one to work extra hard at achieving her goals, Brookfield’s Maddy Smart has jumped arms first into the water at the University of Virginia as she begins her collegiate swim career.
“I love swimming for Virginia,” she said this week. “The training is definitely different than high school was. But I've been working hard and I feel that I've already improved so much as a swimmer and I'm learning so much more about my stroke.”
Smart enjoyed a star-studded career at Brookfield High School and competing in national amateur events leading up to her attending Virginia, considered one of the country’s powerhouse Division I collegiate swim programs.
During the summer of 2012, she competed at the U.S. National Olympic Swim Trials held at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., where she went against mostly college-aged women in the 100-meter freestyle event. She turned in a time of 57.54 that placed her 108th among the 131 competitors in the event.
Smart is the state record holder in the 15-16-year-old 100-freestyle, was a qualifier in both the 100-freestyle and 200-freestyle at the Junior Nationals, an All-America in the 200-freestyle for the 2010-11 season and is a USA Scholastic All-America and Connecticut Scholar Athlete.
During the fall of 2012, she was dominant during the high school season. She finished second in the 200-freestyle and fourth in the 100-freestyle at the State Open Girls Swimming Championships at Yale University in New Haven, and won the 200-freestyle and 100-freestyle at the Class M state meet, leading Brookfield to a fourth place finish in the team standings. She also won Most Outstanding Swimmer honors at the South-West Conference meet, where she captured the 200-meter freestyle in a time of 1:51.98, breaking an 11-year-old SWC mark by three seconds. The 5-foot, 10-inch Smart also won the 100-meter freestyle in a time of 52.34, breaking a two-year-old record by a fraction of a second. She is the possessor of three SWC records, and set the 50-meter freestyle mark of 24.11 in 2010. She is the 2012 YMCA national champ in the 100-meter freestyle, and this past summer she competed at the Junior Nationals.
She said she chose to attend UVA, located in Charlottesville, because “Virginia does not only have a great swim program with rich tradition and wonderful teammates, it also offers me a great education. The campus is so beautiful and I love spending time around the grounds.”
Her training consists of two-a-days Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with an “ab workout” in the afternoons. “Tuesday and Thursdays we lift and then we swim with a strong focus on kicking. On Saturdays, we swim in the morning and then we go to do a lift/circuit right after.”
She already sees herself growing as a competitor.
“I've improved a great deal with my stroke. I've been working a lot on my technique. I've also improved my head position, my kick, my breath control and I'm working on my starts and turns. My goals as a freshman are to improve, not only in my times but with my technique and how I swim my events as well. I also look to contribute in meets, such as ACC's (Atlantic Coast Conference). So far we haven't done too much competing and have been working on training hard. We've just now started to rest and are competing at Ohio State this coming weekend. My times haven't quite been my best because we've been training so hard and been focusing more on technique.”
The daughter of Steven and Rebecca Smart (both parents graduated from UVA) says there is a big difference between high school and DI swimming.
“For one, you're now swimming with people you also live with and all your training is a lot more demanding not only time-wise, but physically as well. Time management is a lot more important when trying to get some sleep but also finishing all my assignments and studying for exams and train at the same time.”
She talked about the rigors of going against the best swimmers in the country.
“The competition is also at a much higher level than in high school. Time standards are a lot faster, but so are all the swimmers. I'm excited to be a part of a Division I program and to have the chance to compete against some of the fastest swimmers in the nation.”
She hasn’t been surprised by anything thus far in college because, “I came here well prepared and with a lot of knowledge of what was coming.” There was, however, a period of adjustment, as for all freshmen, no matter how talented and ready they are.
“The first few weeks were probably a time for adjustment. But our coaches were great with easing us into it and allowing us to get adjusted to our classes and then to training.”
She remains close to her Brookfield and swim club teammates.
“I keep in touch with my high school teammates as much as I can. I talk to my club teammates a good bit about how training is back home, especially with those the same year as me and I hear about how they're doing in college. I've also been able to talk with some of the Brookfield girls about how their season went. It was nice to see them have such a great season.”
Smart is also no slouch in the classroom. She is majoring in kinesiology, “which allows me to go into paths, such as physical therapy or pre-med.” She added, “My classes are going well and finals are only a few weeks away. They're all definitely more of a challenge than high school was, but I've enjoyed learning many new things.”
One of those new things is going even faster through the water, something Maddy Smart has always been quite good at.