Olivia Smoliga Breaks American Record, Leah Smith Scores Third And Fourth Wins In Mesa

By Paul D. Bowker | April 15, 2018, 12:11 a.m. (ET)
Leah Smith competes in the women's 200-meter individual medley at the TYR Pro Swim Series on April 13, 2018 in Mesa, Ariz.

 

2016 U.S. Olympic teammates Leah Smith and Olivia Smoliga finished off triple- and quadruple-win meets, respectively, Saturday at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mesa, Arizona.

Smoliga, who won gold in the medley relay at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, broke an American record with her third win of the meet Saturday in the women’s 50-meter backstroke. In the final against Ali DeLoof, Smoliga won in a record time of 27.43 seconds. She had equaled a personal record with her win in the semifinals.

The Pro Swim Series format calls for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of 50-meter events all to be completed in a matter of about 15 minutes. Only two swimmers make it to the final round.

“I love it,” Smoliga said to NBCSN following the race. “It’s so much fun to swim back to back to back.”

Smoliga also won the 100 and 200 backstroke finals earlier in the meet.

Smith, a two-time medalist in Rio, won the women’s 400 freestyle race and the mystery individual medley, completing a weekend in which she also won the 800 and 200 events.

Smith’s time of 4:07.25 in the 400 free was the seventh fastest time in the world this year. Smith had three wins and a second-place finish in five events over two nights Friday and Saturday.

“Three last night (Friday) was kind of tough,” Smith said after her win in the 400 free. “Two tonight is a little better.”

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Nathan Adrian, a five-time Olympic gold medalist, finished off a one-two punch by winning the men’s 50 freestyle. He also won the 100 free on Friday. He won the bronze medal in both those events in Rio.

Molly Hannis, a 2016 Olympian, captured her second win of the meet in the 50 breaststroke.

Four-time Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers powered to a win in the men’s 50 backstroke, out-dueling Mark Nikolaev of Russia.

Both 50-meter freestyle finals produced sprint showdowns between Americans. Mallory Comerford edged two-time Olympian Lia Neal in the women’s final and the 29-year-old Adrian beat 18-year-old Michael Andrew in the men’s final.

“Still loving it, having a good time,” Adrian said. “There’s always going to be people coming up, pushing you every day.”

Andrew won the 50 butterfly earlier in the day. Other U.S. winners Saturday included Kelsi Dahlia in the women’s 50 butterfly and Nic Fink in the men’s 50 breaststroke.

Zane Grothe finished second in the men’s 400 free.

The Mesa meet continues Sunday morning with the men’s and women’s 1,500 freestyle events.

Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.