Smith sets swimming standardsPublished Mar 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm (Updated Mar 19, 2013 at 2:42 pm)
Leah Smith churns through the water during 500-yard freestyle action during the WPIAL championship. The Oakland Catholic senior shattered her own state record in winning the race at the PIAA championships in 4:36.41.
Eleanor Bailey / Staff
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Leah Smith stole the show during the PIAA Class AAA swimming championships held at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium.
The Oakland Catholic senior, who resides in Mt. Lebanon, dominated the distance swims and earned the prestigious Swimmer of the Meet award for her gold-medal performances.
Smith, who took last season off to prepare for the Olympic Trials, shattered her own state record set in 2011 in the 500-yard freestyle and upended the reigning champion in the 200 free event.
She set new standards at the district level during the WPIAL finals earlier this month, and won the 500 free in record fashion. She lowered the mark twice, once in the prelims and again in the finals.
Though she targeted the national mark, she covered the 20 laps in 4:36.41.
According to the PIAA, the National Federation High School record for the 500 free is 4:34.78, held by Dagny Knutson from North Dakota. She set the standard in 2008, however, Katie Ledecky of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, lowered the mark with a 4:31.38 swim in February.
Smith’s 500 time, however, was 3.55 seconds faster than her previous state mark. The time was also 16.55 seconds ahead of state runner-up Tommie Dillione of Council Rock North.
On the first day of the meet, Smith did not have such a comfortable margin of victory.
She edged defending champion Meaghan Raab in the 200 free. While Raab finished in 1:46.28, Smith touched the wall in 1:45.52.
For Raab, who owns the state record for the event 1:45.10, is was the first loss of her career. The junior from Hershey had been a two-time state champion in the 200.
A Virginia recruit, Smith helped Oakland Catholic to a bronze medal in the 400 free relay. She also swam the third leg on the Eagles’ fourth-place 200 free relay team.
Smith also guided the Eagles to a fourth-place showing in the team standings. Oakland Catholic scored 120 points while Hershey whipped the competition, racking up a 292 score. North Allegheny finished as the state runner-up in the Class AAA girls’ team standings with 165 points.