Smith swims toward Notre Dame

Liam Smith has helped La Salle win Catholic League championships in his first three years at the school. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Liam Smith tried every sport you can imagine.

The senior at La Salle High School was a multisport athlete during his days at St. Christopher in Somerton. He played basketball and baseball, and he was always around football because his dad was a coach.

But the one sport he excelled at the most for as long as he can remember is swimming.

“My mom worked at the Northeast (YMCA), so I started swimming when I was really young, my whole life, really,” Smith said. “I loved it. I enjoy it, but it’s really a challenge. I enjoy it because it’s difficult. It’s a hard sport, and you have to work to get better at it.”

It’s safe to say Smith has put in a lot of work. Not only is he the top swimmer in the Catholic League and one of the best swimmers in the state, he’ll soon be swimming at the University of Notre Dame.

Smith, who swims distance in the fly and the free, committed to Notre Dame earlier this year. He hasn’t slowed down since, competing in the junior nationals in San Francisco this summer and still working as hard as ever in the pool.

Swimming requires a lot of work, and if you want to swim for a school like Notre Dame, you have to really want it. Luckily, that’s not a problem for Smith.

“Notre Dame has everything I could want, I’m really happy with it,” Smith said of the school in South Bend, Indiana. “I’ve loved the school since I was a kid. It’s a great school, not just for athletics, but it’s great academically.

“Everyone is excited about it. The school has a family vibe, the same one that La Salle has. It’s a Catholic school, which is important, and it’s a great school to get an education. It has everything I wanted. I’m super excited to get started.”

Smith has worked hard to get where he’s going.

He puts in plenty of work in the pool with La Salle, which has had a dynasty in the Catholic League. It’s also been one of the top swimming programs in the state the last decade.

“La Salle is great, we’ve won the past 31 straight championships in the Catholic League,” Smith said. “And we’ve really done well in states. Before I got here, we had won five straight. We haven’t won one since I’ve been here, so that’s the biggest thing I want to do my senior year. I really want to win a state championship.”

He’s also come close at winning an individual state crown. He placed third during his sophomore year in the 200 free, and last year he took second. He started his winning ways way back during his freshman year, when he took first in districts in the 100 free.

“I’ve always been pretty good, but when I won districts as a freshman, that’s when I realized I could be really good if I put in the work,” Smith said. “Everyone at the school pushes each other. The team is a family, and we work hard together. You do better when you’re working with talented guys every day.”

Smith has been successful in the pool his whole life, but Notre Dame is tough to get into academically. Luckily, his grades are as high as his times in the water are low.

“I don’t have a major yet, we can’t declare one until after our sophomore year,” said Smith, who maintains a 4.04 grade point average at La Salle. “I do know Notre Dame has a great business school, so I’m looking to do that, but I’m not decided yet. But I do like their business school.”

Smith is also a member of the school’s ambassador program. He attends open houses and tells prospective students the things he loves about the school, and he’s also a member of the National Honor Society. It’s a full schedule, and during the summer, he had little time to rest.

When he wasn’t competing in prestigious meets or practicing with his club team, he was working as a lifeguard at the Huntingdon Valley Swim Club.

Not only was he protecting the campers, but he had a chance to show everyone how fast he is in the pool.

“We had a day with the lifeguard relays,” Smith said. “We won. I don’t think most people know I’m a good swimmer. I think the lifeguards know, but the people who swim there don’t. I don’t talk about it much. I just go and do my job.”

He might not talk about it, but he certainly thinks about it.

He has big goals for his senior year, including taking part in the Olympic trials. But more than anything, he wants to help La Salle get back to being the top team in the state.

It’s definitely something he thinks is within his grasp.

“I want to win a state championship, a team one,” Smith said. “We have a lot of good swimmers. Pennsylvania is a great state for swimming, there are a lot of great teams, but that’s my goal. I want to do that before I leave. I want to get one.”