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Merch Madness
Samantha Smith
Position: Head Coach
Alma Mater: James Madison, B.S. 2001
Smith Videos

Phone: 540.568.3948

Samantha Smith controls the helm of the James Madison University women’s swimming team. Smith, a former standout and former record-holder for the Dukes, was promoted to the head coaching position on May 31, 2005 after serving the 2004-05 campaign as the co-head coach of both the men’s and women’s programs.  She received an extension in August, 2009 to remain with the Dukes through at least 2013.

Under her guidance, the JMU swimming and diving program has seen steady growth each season both in terms of its place in the CAA Championships and dual-meet records, including win the program's sixth CAA Championship in 2012 and its first since Smith swam for the team in 2001.

For her work in 2011-12, Smith was named the CAA Coach of the Year after her team dominated the 2012 Championships, winning the event by 146 points over its nearest competitor. The Dukes claimed five individual champions and 14 All-CAA recognitions at the 2012 conference championships. They also won three of the five relay events and set new CAA Championships records in two of them. Six different swimmers collected CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major All-America Honorable Mentions while three swimmers qualified for the U.S. Swimming Olympic Trials under Smith's tutelage. Senior Eva Hannesdottir became the programs first-ever national champion and Olympic qualifier as she won both the 100 and 200-meter events at the Icelandic National Championships and was named to the 400-medley relay team for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

In her first season as a coach in Harrisonburg, the JMU women’s team finished a very respectable fifth among the 10 teams competing for the Colonial Athletic Association Championships.  Among the top performers for the Dukes was sprinter Allison Keel, who set JMU records in the 50-, 100- and 200-yard freestyle races and was a member of the school-record-setting 800-yard freestyle.  Sarah Jane Bova, Meghan Loucks and Rebecca Schofield were the other members of the relay unit, and only Bova graduated in 2005.

During her second year, Smith guided a very young squad to a ninth-place finish at the CAA meet.  Keel again was the top performer, with a third-place finish in the 50-free highlighting her senior campaign.

The 2007-08 squad took a major step forward in the growth of the program as a team dominated by sophomores and freshmen completed a major turnaround from one win the previous season to an 8-4 record in dual meets.  The team also improved two spots in the CAA meet to seventh.  Nine school records fell during the season, highlighted by sophomore P.J. Naber's performance in the CAA meet.  Naber finished fifth overall in points and broke school records with a trio of top-three finishes, including two NCAA provisional qualifying marks.  The Dukes also set school records in four of the five major relay races with Naber contributing to three.  Fellow sophomore Amanda Hauck also earned All-CAA status with a school record in the 100 backstroke.

The growth continued during the 2008-09 season with another 8-4 record and a rise to fifth in the CAA meet.  The Dukes shattered 14 school records, including all five relay races, five of the six freestyle events, both individual medley races, and both diving events.  Naber placed ninth individually at the CAA meet with three more individual school records and four relay records.  Sophomore Emily Konieczny broke all three distance freestyle records and contributed to one relay.

Improvement continued in 2009-10 for the swimming and diving Dukes with a 7-2 dual record and a third-place showing in the CAA Championships.  JMU swimmers broke eight school records at the CAA Championship meet, including both marks in the backstroke races, breaststroke races, butterfly races, and medley relay races.  Freshman Andrea Criscuolo had a breakthrough rookie campaign, finishing ninth in overall points at the CAA meet, earning honors as the CAA Rookie Swimmer of the Year and a Mid-Major All-American, breaking two individual and two relay school records, earning All-CAA honors in the 100 butterfly, and achieving an NCAA B qualifying mark in the CAA meet.  She was the only freshman at the CAA meet to earn All-CAA honors in an individual event.  JMU also achieved its first-ever NCAA B mark in a relay event in the 200 medley at the CAA Championships.  In addition to Criscuolo, the Dukes earned a total of nine All-CAA honors at the league meet.

While excellence and achievement have increased in the pool under Smith's leadership, the Dukes have also exhibited excellence in the classroom at JMU, having received NCAA APR recognition for both the 2007-08 and 2008-09 academic years.  The APR (Academic Progress Rate) honor places JMU in the top 10% of all NCAA Division I swimming and diving programs.

The climb to the top of the CAA continued in 2010-11 as Smith guided her Dukes to a 10-5 mark in dual meets, including a 4-2 record against CAA foes. At the CAA Championships her team placed second, marking their best finish during her tenure. The Dukes had two individuals claim CAA Championships as junior Eva Hannesdottir won the 100-yard freestyle and junior Nicole Jotso finished first in the three-meter dive. JMU broke 10 individual school records during the year and also set new bests in four of the five relays. Hannesdottir was joined by sophomore Andrea Criscuolo and freshmen Shannon Dubay and Morgan Johnson as mid-major All-Americans. The team finished the year ranked fourth in the CollegeSwimming.com Mid-Major poll and sophomore Kimberly Helfrich became the first member of the JMU swimming and diving program to qualify for the NCAA Championships.

Prior to her return to JMU, Smith served as an assistant coach at CAA rival William and Mary.  She has additional coaching experience at the Summerset Olde Creek Recreation Center in Fairfax, Va. and with the Hershey Aquatic Club in her hometown.

As a collegiate swimmer, Smith won the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke races in school-record times during the 2001 CAA Championship meet in Fairfax.  Her 100-yard time was one minute and 3.94 seconds, and her time in the 200-yard race was 2:19.40.  She was also the breaststroke member of the champion 200-yard medley relay, which set a school record in 1:46.74, and was a member of the co-champion and school-record 400-yard medley relay (3:52.32).  Each of Smith's records in the 100 and 200 breastroke events stood from 2001 until they were broken by one of her swimmers, Lisa Colapietro, in the 2010 CAA Championships.

A native of Hershey, Pa., Smith helped the Dukes win the 2001 Colonial Athletic Association title during her senior campaign.  She graduated from JMU in 2001 with a bachelor’s of science degree in media arts and design and completed a bachelor’s of science degree in studio art in 2002.  She is one of three members of her family to have spent their collegiate swimming careers with the Dukes.  Her older sister, Shawnee, and younger brother, Robert, also swam at JMU.

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