After competing against Harvard swimmers for the past four years, Sybil Smith, a 1988 All-America swimmer at Boston University, has been appointed to the position of Assistant Coach of Women's Swimming at Harvard.
Smith is replacing Carol Landry, who was the assistant for the past four seasons.
"It's going to be a big adjustment, but it will be stimulating," Smith said. "It's going to be a learning experience."
"Sybil is a great athlete and All-American," Harvard Coach Maura Costin Scalise said. "I'm very pleased with her background in sprinting. Our team has a lot of sprinters and we depend on them for scoring. Her expertise and knowledge will be helpful for our swimmers. I'm really excited about her coming here."
Under Scalise the speed-oriented Crimson captured its first Eastern Championship in 1988 behind sprinters Mia Costello and Linda Suhs.
"Maura is great," Smith said. "She's a real motivator. She's respected by coaches and athletes around the country. She was really supportive of me throughout my four years at B.U. She inspires and motivates swimmers other than her own."
Smith was one of the top sprinters and backstroke specialists in the history of women's Eastern collegiate swimming. In the 1988 NCAA championships, she became the first B.U. woman swimmer to earn All-America honors when she placed sixth in the 100 backstroke. Her time of 56.02 was a school record.
Smith also placed 10th in the 50 freestyle. She compiled an 80-0 record in dual-meets at B.U. and was twice voted Outstanding Swimmer at the Eastern championships.
"Sybil's a very successful and experienced swimmer," said Harvard swimmer Michelle Sang, who will be a junior in September. "I have a lot of confidence that she is going to help us out a lot. We're sad to lose Carol, but excited to have Sybil coming in."
"Sybil's a great sprinter, she should really help our sprinters out," Sang said. "She's also an amazing backstroker. She's a really tough racer."
In addition to praising Harvard's swimming program, Smith said she also liked the closeness of the Crimson swimmers. When Smith was the only B.U. swimmer at some meets, the California-native always sat with the Harvard swimmers.
"Harvard is the most close-knit group of athletes I've ever met," Smith said. "They're a great group. They work very well together. I've never met a group of people who are that supportive. It's like one big family."
Being around four years has enabled Smith to become like an honorary team member.
"I have a lot of friends on the team," Smith said. "In the NCAA's they took me in. They were yelling and pulling for me in my races."
"Sybil has a lot of friends on the team," Scalise said. "The team really respects her. She was like one of the team members. She's very warm and charming. Hopefully, she will charm them into fast times."
Smith has qualified for the Olympic Trials in both the 50 and 100 freestyles and the 100 backstroke and will try out for the U.S. team.
"Hopefully, what I've learned and know will rub off." Smith said. "I hope to be an inspiration and motivator like Maura. I'm really excited about coaching at Harvard."