Smith named ACC’s Freshman of the Year
Leah Smith of Mt. Lebanon has been named 2014 Atlantic Coast Conference female freshman of the year.
In her first season swimming for the University of Virginia, the daughter of Margee and Dan Smith earned All-America honors in two events, including a third-place finish in the 1,650 freestyle and a fifth-place finish as part of the 800 free relay. Smith’s time of 15:42.04 in the 1,650 free was a school record, while the 800 free relay’s mark of 7:01.39 was both a UVA and ACC record. Smith also received honorable mention All-America honors in the 500 free, placing ninth in a school and ACC-record time of 4:33.65.
At the ACC Championship, Smith captured gold in the 500 free, 1,650 free and 800 free relay events and silver in the 200 free.
“I am very excited for Leah, it is well deserved,” said UVA skipper Augie Busch, who guided the Cavaliers to a seventh-consecutive ACC Championship, a conference record, and an 11th-place finish at the NCAA Championships.
“Leah is a tremendous athlete and an even better person,” continued Busch, who was named ACC Coach of the Year. “It was fun and truly impressive to watch a first-year set such a standard of competitiveness, toughness and attitude really from day one. I know she raised the level of those around her, in particular the rest of those in the D-group (distance).”
Smith becomes the eighth Virginia swimmer to be named ACC women’s Freshman of the Year. She is the third current Cavalier to earn the award, as junior Ellen Williamson (Ft. Mitchell) and sophomore Courtney Bartholomew (Holland, Mich.) were honored in the 2012 and 2013, respectively.
Previously, in her career, the Oakland Catholic product placed 12th in the 800-meter free and 14th in the 400 free at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials. She was a gold medalist and record holder in 400- and 800-meter free and bronze medalist in 200 free during 2012 Junior Pan Pacific Championships, earning Swimmer of the Meet recognition. She also was a silver and bronze medalist in the 2011 Winter National Championships and a member of the U.S. National Junior Team.
Additionally, she was a USA Swimming scholastic all-American as well as a multi-record setter at the WPIAL and PIAA championships.
Smith comes from a family of athletes. Her father pole vaulted for the Cavaliers. Her sister, Aileen, swims for Columbia. In addition to her brother, Daniel, Neal is a swimmer at Central Catholic.