INDIANAPOLIS – Former Carson-Newman women's swimmer Nancy Claire Smith (Franklin, Tenn.) has been nominated for the NCAA's Woman of the Year.
Last year, former Carson-Newman softball player Elayna Siebert became the first Eagle to make the final nine for the NCAA Woman of the Year.
During a season in which the senior earned Honorable Mention All-American honors as part of C-N's women's 800 free relay team, Smith also put together a 4.00 GPA while double majoring in Biochemistry and Religion.
She concluded her Carson-Newman career as the first two-time CoSIDA Academic All-America to make the at-large team in school history.
The Tennessee native collected four victories as a senior and also helped her club to a victory in the 400 medley relay against King (Tenn.). At the Bluegrass Mountain Conference Championships, she was named all-conference in the 800 free relay.
For Smith, this is another honor in a star-studded career on the C-N swim team. She finished this season as one of six seniors who were the first four year members of Mossy Creek's swim program, which began in 2013. She was named an All-American in 2016 with the 800 free relay squad and picked up honorable mention status in the 200 free relay. She also became the first student-athlete in Carson-Newman history to receive the NCAA's Elite 90 Award, which she was given at 2016 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. The accolade goes to the participant at the championship site with the highest GPA.
She finished her junior year as the recipient of the Carson-Newman Female Scholar Athlete of the Year. Smith topped that as a senior by receiving the Carson-Newman Academic Athlete of the Year.
Her academic resume is extensive. She made Dean's List and Eagle Scholar the entirety of her Carson-Newman career and earned membership into the Theta Alpha Kappa Religion Honor Society and Alpha Chi Honor Society at Carson-Newman.
Smith did a summer studying abroad at Oxford University where she completed a research paper pending publication on Baptist history at Regent's Park College at Oxford. A summer later, she would research and write a paper on former Carson-Newman professor and renowned cancer researcher, Dr. Carl Tabb Bahner.
While maintaining a high academic level, Smith also devoted her life to service and helping guide others to a life in the light of Christ. She has taken missions trips to Cape Town, South Africa and Denia, Spain.
She has organized and led numerous Bible studies, working with CYA, the children's ministry at First Baptist Church teaching Sunday School to 4th-6th graders, Reformed University Fellowship and the Carson-Newman swim team itself.
She had a missionary internship with Arrowhead Church, working with A-Kids Ministry, where she attended weekly meetings, and attended the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis.
Smith also has worked extensively with refugees, teaching swim lessons to five girls from Burma in the summer of 2015. She also helped organize and volunteered with the Kidz Club at Regency Apartments, which involved helping with a program for refugees who live in those apartments in Nashville.
A record 543 female college athletes have been nominated by NCAA member schools for the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year award.
Established in 1991 and now in its 27th year, the NCAA Woman of the Year award honors graduating female college athletes who have exhausted their eligibility and distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership throughout their collegiate careers.
The school nominees represent all three NCAA divisions, with 229 from Division I, 117 from Division II and 197 from Division III. The nominees competed in 21 different women's sports, and 122 were multisport athletes during their time in college.
The NCAA encourages member schools to honor their top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award.
Next, conferences will select up to two conference nominees each from the pool of school nominees. The Woman of the Year selection committee, made up of representatives from the NCAA membership, will then choose the top 30 honorees — 10 from each division.
From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three honorees from each division and announces the nine finalists in September. The NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics then chooses the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year from those nine.
The top 30 honorees will be recognized and the 2017 NCAA Woman of the Year will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 22 in Indianapolis.