JMU roundup: Swim coach Smith retires

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — James Madison head swimming and diving coach Samantha Smith has announced her retirement from coaching on Friday.

During her time with the program, Smith has raised the level of JMU swimming and diving to great heights, culminating with the team’s sixth Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2011-12. The Dukes dominated the competition at the 2012 CAA Championships, beating second-place by 146 points. Her team improved on its finish at the CAA Championships every season between 2006-07 and 2011-12. They went from ninth in 2007 to winning the title in 2012.

She was named the 2011-12 CAA Swimming Coach of the Year after guiding the team to a 13-2 dual meet record before win the conference title. In her eight seasons with Madison, Smith went 63-30 in dual meets and finished in the top three at the CAA Championships four times. The team has broken every individual and relay school record under her tutelage, including eight individual and four relay events during the 2012-13 season.

Individuals have also reached great heights under Smith’s leadership. Freestyle swimmer Eva Hannesdottir (2010-12) is the reigning Icelandic national champion in the 100 and 200-meter freestyle events. She also represented Iceland at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, swimming in the 400-meter medley relay. Catalina Mendieta (2010-12) represented JMU at the National Championships for Columbia while rising senior Kelsey Holmgaard (Roanoke, Va./George Mason) competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012.

Rising junior Sin Hye Won became the first JMU swimmer to qualify for the NCAA Championship, competing in both breaststroke events in 2013 while diver Kimberly Helfrich (2009-13) was the first swimming and diving athlete to reach the NCAAs, competing at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

A national search for Smith’s replacement will begin immediately.