Jan. 27, 2010
GoStanford.com caught up with swimmer junior Liz Smith between double practices and Human Biology classes. The St. Louis, Missouri native is a HumBio major and is involved with the Cardinal Life Christian Fellowship and raising awareness about international women's health and human trafficking/slavery.
Why did you choose Stanford?
I visited many schools on recruiting trips including Georgia, Minnesota, Auburn, Cal and Stanford. My final decision was between Minnesota and Stanford and there are so many reasons that I am here. First was the academics and second was the weather! Seriously though, at Stanford, I knew people would challenge me, stretch me, and expose me to different things. The opportunities and the people are amazing here.
What is the best coaching advice that you've ever received?
Something that I've heard from multiple coaches is to stop thinking. I tend to over-analyze every little thing. My coaches will tell me, "Liz, just stop thinking, have fun, go race." My coach wants us to believe and to have fun with it, to be happy and positive and always smile and laugh.
Describe some of your more memorable swim experiences and your favorite team moment at Stanford.
My favorite collegiate swim experience will be when we win Pac10s and NCAAs! My favorite experiences so far, though, have been the laughter in the locker room and the joking with teammates and seeing the resilience on our team. Freshman year, we had a relay disqualified and in the next heat two teammates and I took 1,2,3 in the consolation final. That act epitomizes our team. Our team will always come back with fire and resilience.
During long course, summer swimming in high school, I went three years without posting a best time. It was frustrating because in practice I'd be racing faster and faster, but in meets I was finishing at the same time, or slower. Last summer I dropped four seconds and it was so exciting and memorable. That swim put me third at the World Championship trials and put me on the National Team for the first time this year.
What is your typical week of training?
We have practice every afternoon, Saturday mornings and double practices on three days. Every day is different- Monday morning might be aerobic, Monday afternoon might be IM, Tuesday might be fast, and Wednesday could be recovery. We have weights three times a week and twice a week we do circuit conditioning. Being outside in the pool is definitely nice, in the morning it's often dark and cold, very cold, but being outside we get to see the sun and even the stars sometimes! Sometimes you get rain and wind that blows your paddles away, but you also get a tan. It's definitely a fair trade.
What are your favorite books and music?
My favorite books are the Lord of the Rings series and my favorite author is C.S. Lewis. My iPod is currently playing Christian music like Jars of Clay and Hillsong as well as Michael Bublé and lots of country music- Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts.
When did you know that swimming was your sport?
I started swimming when I was three because I went to Sea World and wanted to become a dolphin trainer. When I was 13, I made my first sectional meet, then my first U.S. Open, and then Nationals. My heat at a 2005 National meet included some Olympians and I placed sixth. Those are the moments when you realize that you actually have some potential. Although it took me a while to get comfortable in the fast National setting, I began to make friends with swimmers as people, not just stars. Those friendships and my friendships with my Stanford teammates made me realize that it wasn't just "Little Liz in a Big Pool." It was actually a place where I could compete and take on challenges and embrace them.
If you could swim anywhere in the world- where would it be?
I've always wanted to swim with dolphins. Even though it's the reason I began swimming, I haven't gotten to do it yet. Otherwise, there are some crazy pools in Europe, like the Italian outdoor lap pools in the ocean, that I'd like to try!
--- Elizabeth Clair for GoStanford.com---