Honor Roll No. 3: Julia Smit

TheBootleg.com's third Honor Roll winner is none other than swimmer Julia Smit. Her team finished second at NCAAs, its best place since Smit was in 8th grade. Smit, meanwhile, won a national championship in the 400 IM -- her 12th All-American award in her two years at Stanford.

In the latest issue of The Bootleg Magazine, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2007/2008 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:
Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational.  While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents.  Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well as their school pride, the famed "Spirit of Stanford."

During the months of June and July, we are releasing the 10 winners of this prestigious award, one by one.  We have previously recognized baseball's Jason
Castro and gymnastics' David Sender as amongst this year's winners. Our third announced member of The Bootleg's 2007-08 Honor Roll is swimmer Julia Smit.

Honor Roll Winner: Julia Smit

Stanford doesn't exactly suffer for star student-athletes, as 14 straight Directors' Cups attest. This year alone, Stanford teams won two national championships, Foluke Akinradewo and Candice Wiggins were national Players of the Year, and Stanford claimed 93 All-American awards. Yet across the University, there were only three individual national champions. Stanford fans know well the first two: Paul Kornfeld, champion swimmer in the 100 and 200 breast, and Erica McLain, champion in the indoor and outdoor triple jump. So it's high time to welcome sophomore swimmer Julia Smit, national champion in the 400-meter individual medley, to that elite company.

Smit's success this year hardly came as a surprise. In high school, she was a two-time National Swimmer of the Year and reached the finals of the 2004 Olympic trials – and graduated second in a 167-member class to boot. As a freshman in 2006-07, Smit was a three-time Pac-10 Champion (200 IM, 400 IM, 200 back) and six-time All-American, with four top-three finishes at NCAAs. The New Yorker was a two-time National Swimmer of the Week from collegeswimming.com, and was the conference's Newcomer of the Year and Swimmer of the Pac-10 Championships.

Yet it's Smit's sophomore year that has been her strongest yet, and earns her a place on our Honor Roll. Though her underclassman status prevented Smit from being a captain, she was a team leader as the squad's best swimmer. So whether Smit deserves credit primarily for her own efforts in the pool, her influence on her teammates or both is debatable, but that Stanford benefitted is inarguable. The Cardinal women finished third in the nation at NCAAs, their best performance since 2002, when Smit was still in middle school.

Smit, meanwhile, was named the National Swimmer of the Week in December, portending a strong performance to come at the NCAA Finals. And on college swimming's biggest stage, Smit did not disappoint, winning the 400 IM (arguably swimming's most grueling race), and taking fourth in the 200 IM and seventh in the 200 back.

Just halfway through her Stanford career, Smit is an Anthropology major in the classroom and now a 12-time All-American in the pool. She is in Stanford's top-five all-time times in five different events, including her school-record 1:55.38 in the 200 IM. As the squad loses several top performers to graduation both this year and next, Smit's importance will only grow as she advances in her Stanford career. Simply put, she needs to continue to record multiple top-five finishes at the NCAAs if the Cardinal hopes to replicate its succes this season.

As this article went to press, Smit was set to compete in five events in the Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb.: the 400 meter individual medley, the 200 meter freestyle, the 200 IM, the 100 free and the 200 meter backstroke. The American Olympic trials can present nearly as daunting competition as the Olympic Games themselves in women's swimming, so while there are no guarantees for Smit, one simply needs to consider how close she was to reaching Athens and how much she's accomplished since then to realize the opportunity that lays before her now.

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