Leah Smith of Mt. Lebanon and Josh Matheny of Upper St. Clair were named to the U.S. National Team after a pandemic-shortened season threw a wrench into the typical selection process.
The team usually comprises the top six swimmers in each Olympic event across either the entire season or a selection of the top few national- and international-level meets. But with the coronavirus pandemic severely limiting competitive events since March — including the cancellation of the tail end of the Pro Swim Series, U.S. Olympic Trials, and Olympics — USA Swimming came up with a new system for putting together its national team:
- All members of the 2019-2020 National Team remain on the roster;
- Any swimmer who hit a time faster than last year’s sixth-place time prior to March 17, 2020 is added to the team.
In open water, the 2019-2020 national team members also carried over, with remaining positions filled based on results of the 2019 10K National Championship.
Smith competed in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. The Oakland Catholic High School and University of Virginia graduate won a gold and bronze medal. She earned a spot on the national team in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyle events.
Matheny is a breastroke specialist and selected at the 200-meter distance. The rising senior at Upper St. Clair is committed to Indiana University.
The U.S. National Team earns several key benefits, including access to monthly stipends, meet reimbursement, athlete health insurance and Olympic Training Center access, among others.