March 24, 2009
STANFORD, Calif. - Junior Julia Smit of the Stanford women's swimming and diving team has been named one of four finalists for that sport's 2008-09 Honda Sports Award. The award, which has been given annually since 1976-77, honors the top woman collegiate athlete in each sport. Smit is joined on the swimming and diving ballot by senior Rebecca Soni of USC, junior Gemma Spofforth of Florida and senior Dana Vollmer of California.
The winner after nationwide balloting will become a candidate for The Honda-Broderick Cup, awarded annually to the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. In addition to the honor of this selection, American Honda will donate $1,000 to the woman's athletic fund of each nominee's university.
Smit is a 19-time All-American, a three-time NCAA champion and is the American, U.S. Open and NCAA record holder in both the 200-yard IM (1:52.79) and the 400-yard IM (4:00.56). Arguably the country's top woman IM swimmer, she also owns American short-course meters records for both the 200 IM (2:06.49, set Nov. 29, 2008) and the 400 IM (4:25.87, set Nov. 28, 2008). Smit briefly held the world record in the 400-meter IM, as her swim was .65-second better than the previous mark of 4:26.52 set by Olympic gold medalist (and 2004-05 Honda Award winner) Kirsty Coventry.
The Mt. Sinai, NY native capped an exceptional junior season by winning 2009 NCAA championships in both the 200-yard IM and 400-yard IM with record-breaking swims, while also swimming the anchor leg on Stanford's American record-setting 400 free relay (3:11.14). By also sweeping the IM events at the 2009 Pac-10 Championships, Smit joins former Stanford great and Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders (1992) as the only two women swimmers ever to win the 200 IM and 400 IM at both the Pac-10s and NCAAs in the same season.
Smit earned seven All-America honors at the 2009 NCAA Championships, helping Stanford bring home a fourth-place trophy. In addition to her IM titles and her effort on the 400 free relay, Smit also finished third in the 100 free and swam on a trio of fourth-place Cardinal relays (200 free, 800 free and 400 medley relay). Smit's effort on the 400 free relay - the meet's final event - helped Stanford hold off Texas and finish fourth, allowing the Cardinal to capture NCAA Championships hardware for the third consecutive season.
Through her first three collegiate campaigns, Smit owns individual Stanford records in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 IM and 400 IM, while she also swam on relays that established school marks in the 200 free, 400 free and 800 free. Along with those school standards, she ranks second in Stanford annals for the 200 back, third for the 200 free, seventh for the 500 free, eighth for the 100 back and eighth for the 200 breast.
As a 2008 United States Olympian, Smit was a two-time medalist in Beijing. She earned silver in the 400-meter free relay and bronze in the 800-meter free relay, swimming in the preliminaries for both events.
Stanford swimmers have won nine previous Honda Awards, while Tara Kirk received the 2003-04 Honda-Broderick Cup. The other Stanford winners were: Jenna Johnson (1985-86 and 1988-89), Janet Evans (1989-90), Sanders (1991-92), Janel Jorgensen (1992-93), Jenny Thompson (1994-95) and Misty Hyman (1997-98 and 2000-01).