Olympic Gold Medalist Olivia Smoliga grew up in Chicago, IL. with her younger brother Matt. Only 4 years apart, their relationship boded an active lifestyle as kids - biking to 7-Eleven down the block for slushees, running laps around the park to see who could be faster, or who could run the most hills. Early on, Olivia was invested sports. Firstly, with dance - Irish, of all choices - even though her parents are Polish immigrants. She tried diving, gymnastics, volleyball ... all until she started to swim.
When Olivia was 10 years old, she joined her first swim club, where she only really remembers getting water up her nose and in her ears. It wasn’t until she watched the 2004 Olympics on TV that the sport caught her eye as something magical.
In 2012, at just 17, she competed in her first Olympic Trials where she placed 4th in the 100m backstroke, in the top 10 in the world in that event. But missing the team by 2 spots at the time, was heart breaking. It was her dream to become an Olympian, and she fell short. Staying the course, five months later, she was selected to be on the short course world championship team. There, she won her first individual title in the 100m backstroke and broke the American record in the 50m backstroke, getting silver.