Dec. 14, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky swimming and diving head coach Gary Conelly has announced the signing of nine swimmers and four divers for the class of 2011. Samantha Shaheen, Michael Miller, Abby Myers, Blair Kuethe, Julia Gerotto, Lucas Gerotto, Nick Watson, Christina Bechtel and Taylor Melton are coming to UK as swimmers. Christa Cabot, Sarah Chewning, Lindsay Keahey and Shannon Reynolds have signed as divers.
"This is a very exciting group of signees for us," Conelly said. "On the women's side I think it is possible to say this is the best class of swimmers and divers we have ever signed. There is no doubt that these young women are going to help us move the women's swimming and diving program further up in the top levels of NCAA swimming and diving."
Shaheen, a Carmel, Ind., native who swam for the Carmel Swim Club under the tutelage of Chris Plumb, joins the Cats as a breaststroker. Shaheen was a national qualifier and team captain. Her high school won the state championship while she was there.
"Samantha has been improving rapidly over the last year," Conelly said. "As a sprint breaststroker she promised to rise to a level where she would be establishing new team records in the 50 (relay split) and 100 breast events. This is critical as she will be a very important leg on both our 200 and 400 medleys. In her senior year in high school she will be looking to improve in her 200 breast and bring it up to the same high level as her 50 and 100."
Miller specializes in the butterfly and freestyle strokes. The bond Miller saw within the team was amazing and was something he wanted to be a part of, he said. Miller, a Villa Hills, Ky., native, is a two-time state champion in the 4x100 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. Miller was the state runner-up in the 100 butterfly and a three-time automatic All-American. Miller swam for the Kingfish Aquatic Club under Ed Bachman's coaching.
"It is very gratifying to get one of the best high school sprint butterflyers in Kentucky," Conelly said. "Mike is going to help us out by adding depth to our fly contingent. He has plenty of speed for the 100 and we will be looking to develop his 200 fly along with his IM events. Improvement wise we expect him to follow in the mold of Colin Faris, dropping significantly in college and moving on to the national scene."
Myers, a Cranberry Township, Pa., native, swims the butterfly and freestyle. She is a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and Allegheny Mountain Outstanding Swimmer. Myers did her club swimming with the Fox Chapel Killer Whales where she was coached by Todd Clark.
"Abby is continuing to have a stand-out year in high school," Conelly said. "She is coming out of the U.S. junior nationals with life time bests. Her times are just tenths off from putting her in the SEC top 16. In addition to helping us in fly, she will also help develop our freestyle events from the 50 to the 500. She will be a scorer for us at the SEC and NCAA level."
Kuethe swam under the coaching of Dave Gesacion at Tampa Bay Aquatics. A two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American, Kuethe was a three-time MVP at Wharton High School where she was also the captain of the swim team. Kuethe specializes in the freestyle.
"Blair is one of our most exciting recruits," Conelly said. "Our read on her is that she is one of those swimmers who will really take off in college. Her high school times are very impressive but our staff thinks the best is yet to come. The competition of college and quality time in the weight room will make Blair a standout at all levels."
Julia Gerotto comes to UK from São Paulo, Brazil where she was one of the best athletes in Clube Paineiras do Morumby. Julia swims the freestyle and butterfly and chose to come to Kentucky because of the academic and athletic opportunities, and her brother, Lucas, is also coming.
"Julia is one of Brazil's best female swimmers," Conelly said. "She has a very good shot at making the Brazilian Olympic team for 2012. She is a very impressive swimmer with world class times in several events. She will be a dominating force in the 200 fly in conference and NCAA competitions. She will give us much needed scoring power in the distance freestyles as well as the IM events. She can literally swim anything and we are expecting to rewrite the team record book in a big way."
Lucas Gerotto, a member of the South American National Team, swims the butterfly, freestyle and individual medley. Gerotto is transferring from Clemson University.
"Lucas, like his sister, is one of the best swimmers in Brazil," Conelly said. "He has a very solid chance to make it to the London Olympics in 2012. He will be a threat to any of our competitors in the fly and IM events as well as the distance freestyles. He will help us move back into the top 15 at the national level."
Watson comes to UK from East Grand Rapids, Mich., where he was the Michigan High School Division III Swimmer of the Year. Watson was also an All-American and high school division III state champion in the 100 and 200 freestyle. Watson swam club for East Grand Rapids Aquatics and was coached by Brandon Converse and Butch Briggs. Watson swims the freestyle and backstroke.
"Nick is poised to take some significant drops in the freestyle events," Conelly said. "He could really make an impact in the 50 up to the 200 free. I think he will thrive in the weight room and the competitive waters of Lancaster Aquatic Center. Nick is going to surprise a lot of people in his freshman year."
Christina Bechtel is a native of Franklin Tenn., where she did her club swimming for Excel Aquatics. Bechtel comes to UK as an All-American in the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke, 400 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay. Bechtel was a scholastic All-American, as well, and the Middle Tennessee Swimmer of the Year.
"Christina is one of the most versatile swimmers in this class," Conelly said. "She has impressive times in the freestyle events as well as backstroke and butterfly. She will be a very valuable asset in competition as the opposition can pretty much expect her anywhere. The opposition will have a hard time preparing for her and the team as a whole. Like all the other women in this class she is a very possible NCAA qualifier and scorer."
Melton, a Brentwood, Tenn., native, swims the butterfly and individual medley. She swam in the Senior Nationals in Irvine, Calif., and owns the 100 individual medley and 200 individual medley high school county records. She also placed in the top eight in the 200 IM and 500 free at the state level in high school. Melton swam for the Nashville Aquatic Club and was coached by John Morse.
"Taylor's move to Nashville to swim with John Morse paid huge dividends," Conelly said. "She had an amazing summer with tremendous time drops. She is very talented in all four strokes with the ability to score in all of them equally well, which makes her a tremendous threat in the IM events. Taylor helps us everywhere. She looks like she is just going to keep getting better and going faster."
On the diving side, UK diving head coach Ted Hautau will welcome four new members to the 2011 team.
Cabot comes to Kentucky from Woodlands, Texas where she dove for the Woodlands Dive Academy under coaches Kenny Armstrong, Bob Gunter and Danny Sautural. Cabot earned second-, fifth- and sixth-place finishes on the one- and three-meter boards and platform at Age Group Nationals.
"Christa is arguably one of the best talents in the country in women's diving," Hautau said. "She is relatively new to the sport but trains with one of the top programs in the country. Her coaches recommended that we look at four of their girls who were coming out. Christa was the least well known, but was the person the coaches were most excited about and I could immediately see why. On top of the talent, she's a great kid and a great student."
Chewning is a Springdale, Ark., native who dove with the North West Arkansas Twisters under Scott and Howard Reich. Chewning is the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Arkansas state champion and state record holder. She is also a recipient of the academic achievement award in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
"I noticed Sarah right away at the Junior National Championships," Hautau said. "She was so smooth and talented, but I did not recognize her. Turns out, for the last two years she only gets pool time about five months out of the year, and she still finished sixth this year at the Junior National Championships. She is resilient and I believe she is going to take off when she gets into a good training situation."
Keahey, a Katy, Texas native, dove for Jane Figueiredo at the Houston Cougars Diving Club.
"Lindsay is a quick study, coming from gymnastics to diving in the last couple of years," Hautau said. "She has already developed a list of dives from the 10-meter platform and is very hungry. She comes out of a very good club program and will continue to develop when she hits the SEC level of competition.
Reynolds, another Texas native hailing from the city of Cypress, dove for the Woodlands Diving Academy and Coach Ken Armstrong.
"Shannon is brand new to diving, having come out of gymnastics a few months ago," Hautau said. "She hurt her back in gymnastics and could not continue, but was a state champion in Texas a few years ago. She has a ton of talent. We will patiently develop her, but I think she is going to excel when she starts training with this group of girls."
Kentucky's final meet of the fall portion of the 2010-11 schedule was the Tennessee Invitational from Nov. 18-20. Numerous Cats had season-best times at the meet, including senior Kayla Sergesketter who recorded NCAA (B) qualifying times in the 50, 100 and 200 free, and Chatham Penrod who earned NCAA (B) qualifying times in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
UK will hit the pool again Jan. 5 when they travel south to Savannah, Ga., for a tri-meet with the Savannah College of Art and Design and Limestone.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for all swimming and diving news.