Rookie of the Year: Amy Smith

Smith leaves her mark at Eastern


Jehad Abbed

Freshman swimmer Amy Smith is transferring to the University of Iowa after having a memorable year during her first year at Eastern. Smith set two new school records for the Panthers this year.

Sean Hastings

Freshman swimmer Amy Smith had a standout first year in the water for Eastern including two school records, which earned her “Rookie of the Year” honors from the Daily Eastern News Staff.

Smith set the Eastern record for the women’s 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard backstroke. She broke both records at the conference meet at the end of the season.

Smith broke the 100-backstroke with a time of 56.86, clocking in .24 seconds faster than the previous record.

She broke the 200-backstroke with a time of 2:03.82, also .24 seconds faster than the previous record set.

Smith did not think about breaking any records coming into Eastern.

“I definitely did not come in hoping to break school records,” Smith said. “I just kind of came in trying to have best times and find my place on the team.”

She said that she exceeded the expectations she had set for herself at the beginning of the season.

Smith realized that the records were attainable and became something that she shot for in the season. So being able to break the record just as a freshman was special for Smith.

“It’s cool to see my name up there on the board and it’s cool to think that I did that myself, and all my hard work this season really paid off,” Smith said.

Smith said she was happy with how she swam in her first year at the collegiate level, especially because she had not swam for a long time.

“It was really exciting,” Smith said. “I wasn’t able to swim my senior year (high school) so it was really exciting to come back and really help out the team and be able to score a lot of points.”

All season long, Smith was finishing at the front and winning a majority of her 100 and 200-yard backstroke races and was a big point contributor to the women’s swim team.

“It was awesome to be able to contribute to the team,” Smith said. “They’re always there to be able to support me through the practices and we’re all there to support each other. It’s great to be able to be able to step up and support the team in terms of points.”

Smith got her first career collegiate win in the 100 and 200-yard backstroke against Ball State in just the second meet of the season on Nov. 7 with times of 1:00.21 and 2:09.93.

Smith received help from first year head coach Jacqueline Michalski throughout the year and said it made her a better swimmer.

“Jacqueline was a huge support throughout the whole season,” Smith said. “A lot of it was me kind of mentally figuring it out.”

Smith said there was a rough part of the season where she might have a bad practice, and thought that the records might even be out of reach and were taking over her mind.

“She was there to mentally support me and be like ‘don’t worry about this, you’ll be fine, you’re going to have a great meet, and you’re going to have a great conference meet.’”

She said it was tough because it all comes down to the four days at the conference meet no matter how long the season is.

She said Michalski let her know that everything she went through during those tough times in the season would be worth it in the end, which is when Smith broke the records.

This is unfortunately the end of Smith’s swimming career and career at Eastern as well as she will be transferring to the University of Iowa. Smith will not swim at Iowa but will be on the track team doing pole vault.

Smith wants to go into nursing and there is a better opportunity to do that at Iowa.

“As for swimming this is kind of the end of the line for me,” Smith said. “It had been kind of in the back of my mind second semester because nursing is definitely something I want to do and I wouldn’t be able to do it here.”

Smith said she finally decided that she needed to make the best career choice for herself, which was the deciding factor in leaving Eastern.

Smith has left her mark in the pool setting records and having the times that all other backstroke swimmers will have to chase in the years to come.


Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]