With three state swimming records under her belt and a second place finish in the women's 100 meter backstroke during Winter Nationals, Glenbrook South junior Olivia Smoliga has made quite the name for herself both in and out of the Titan swimming pool.
But if you ask her, she is just a normal teen.
“My life as a student is the same as everyone else,” she said on a recent Thursday afternoon shortly before an interview with a national news channel. “I have homework and have to go to class. And when I don’t go to class, I have to make-up the work.”
Smoliga was only 4-years-old when she first learned to swim. Now 17, she has her sights set on the Olympics. In June she will compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials, with a chance to represent the United States in London.
She will swim in four events: the 100 and 200-meter backstrokes and 50 and 100 freestyles. And her competition is clear.*
She has a continued drive to upstage herself. Smoliga set state records in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles during the preliminaries of the 2011 state swim meet. Then, she broke her own 50 record the next day in the finals.
“I like to set my goals pretty high,” she said. “I push myself to get faster times and I’m always going to want more. I have a serious drive to win.”
Smoliga also has a serious dedication to the sport, with her life often consumed with practices, competitions and never ending training sessions and work-outs. However, her parents always remind her to stay just as focused in the classroom.
“This is what I love to do. I want to be a swimmer. But my parents have put it into my head that school should remain my number one priority,” Smoliga said.
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*An earlier version of this story included a quote from Smolgia that was incorrectly attributed to her in a press release from Glenbrook South.