By Matt Popchock
We recently profiled a number of local Olympians, but since the opening ceremonies in London, another youngster with WPIAL ties has flown–or, to be more specific, swam–under our radar.
Allison Schmitt, who recently captured the silver medal in the 400-meter freestyle with an American-record time of 4:01.77, is a Pittsburgh native. Her father, Ralph Schmitt, is a member of the North Hills High School Class of 1969 (and her brother Derek, by the way, swam for Pitt).
The 22-year-old swimmer was born in western Pennsylvania, but attended high school in Canton Township, Michigan and trained alongside Olympic legend and University of Michigan alumnus Michael Phelps regularly.
Schmitt also recorded a heat time of 53.54 seconds to help the United States’ 4×100-meter freestyle relay team earn a bronze medal, adding to the bronze she earned in Beijing four years ago in the 800-meter freestyle relay–another American-record performance.
With a qualifying time of 1:57.33, she is slated to compete in the semifinals of the 200-meter freestyle Tuesday at around 2:30 PM ET, and again in the 800-meter freestyle relay, the finals of which get underway shortly after 4:00 PM ET on Wednesday.
OTHER OLYMPIC NEWS:
In case you missed it, the highly-touted U.S. women’s volleyball team, featuring former Hopewell (and Penn State) standout Christina Harmotto, continued its strong start to the London Games with a 3-1 victory (25-18, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21) over a formidable Brazilian squad Monday afternoon.
Starting at middle blocker, Harmotto contributed four kills and one block to the Americans, who were coming off a similar 3-1 win over South Korea in Saturday’s Olympic lid-lifter. They face another tough test in China at 3:00 PM ET Wednesday as round-robin play continues.
Meanwhile, the U.S. women’s basketball team, which toyed with Croatia in its Olympic-opening 81-56 win Saturday, did a better job shaking out the cobwebs in a 90-38 rout of Angola Monday.
What’s the local significance? McKeesport native and erstwhile WPIAL champion Swin Cash, who registered one field goal, one free throw, one offensive rebound, and one personal foul in five minutes Saturday, made a bit bigger impact in the Americans’ latest triumph.
Cash was given 14 minutes by former college coach Geno Auriemma this time around, during which she put up eight points on 2-of-3 shooting, making all four of her foul shots, and picking up two personals.
Defensively Cash recorded a rebound, a steal, and a block as the United States held Angola to under 20 percent shooting.
The U.S. women will next battle Turkey in another preliminary round game at 5:15 PM ET Wednesday.
Finally, with Olympic wrestling set to get going Sunday, our partners, the MSA Sports Network, offer this inside look at U.S. representative and former North Allegheny product/WPIAL medalist Jake Herbert, courtesy of MSA’s Mike Azadian.
(Follow me on Twitter @mpopchock.)