PISCATAWAY, NJ – The Rutgers swimming and diving team signed its largest early class in program history during the NCAA fall signing period of November 10-17. A total of 10 high school All-Americans signed with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the early signing period. Speed was the underlining characteristic of the women’s class, which received seven commitments. The men received letter of intents from three talented athletes that will balance the team nicely.
Colorado 100 freestyle champion Laura Wright and Connecticut speedsters Madison Kennedy and Kasey Kesses are three of the fastest sprinters to every commit to Rutgers. Wright comes to Rutgers from Skyline High School and Coach Scott O’Brien’s Longmont Swim Club in Longmont, CO. She is an honor student and was a high school All-American as a junior. She has great versatility in her ability to swim strong individual medley and breaststroke events, in addition to all the short freestyle events. Wright swam the fastest 100-yard freestyle of any of the Colorado High School Championships last winter at 51.2.
Kennedy comes from Avon High School and Coach Jim Ottman’s Charter Oak Aquatic Club in Hartford, CT. She was a high school All-American as a junior and is the fastest 50 freestyle swimmer in high school to ever attend Rutgers. Her best time of 23.4 sits right on the school record and her 100 free time (51.2) equals Wright’s as the fastest of any incoming freshman. Kennedy is also an outstanding backstroker (57) and strong in the 200 individual medley (2:06). Kennedy also played lacrosse for two years at Avon High School.
Kesses comes from Amity Regional High School in Woodbridge, Connecticut and Coach Sara Massa’s Cougar Aquatic Team – the same club program that produced current Rutgers All-American Kelly Harrigan. An honors student, she has been a multi sport star through her career qualifying for the Connecticut state finals in track as a freshman at Amity Regional HS. She has been a finalist at the Connecticut High School Open Swimming Championships. Her 50 (24.0) and 100 freestyle event should be very strong immediately and develop others as she devotes more time to swim training.
New Jersey product Catherine Whetsone comes to Rutgers from Hunterdon Central High School and Coach Peter Barry’s Somerset Hill YMCA. She will be a major contributor in the backstroke (57/2:03) and butterfly (56) events. Whetstone has been a finalist at the National Y Championships and the New Jersey High School Meet of Champions. She suffered from mononucleosis during her junior year but looks to bounce back for an excellent senior season.
Kara Ernst attends Seekonk High School (MA) and swims for Coach Ray Grant’s Seekonk Swim Club. She is a high honors student and was USA Swimming All-Scholastic pick for two years. Ernst is an outstanding breaststroke/IM swimmer and received All-American consideration during her junior year. Her best times (1:06/2:22) are well within reach of placing in the final eight at the BIG EAST Championships. She will add outstanding depth to these events for the Rutgers team.
Linda Tate comes to Rutgers from Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Florida and Coach Gordon Andrew’s Lake Lytal Lightning Swim Club. She is a member of the National Honor Society and a scholastic All-American. Tate is a two-time high school All-American and placed in the finals of both the 100 butterfly (56.9) and 100 backstroke (58.3) at the recent Florida High School Swimming Championships.
Jennifer Potvin is the third commitment from Connecticut, hailing from Waterford High School and Coach Pat Pyrch’s Cardinal Diving Club. She is an high honors student and finished second at the recent Connecticut High School Open Championships. A high school All-American last season, she has great potential at the college level.
Steve Miller heads a balanced, but unfinished, men’s class that looks to add more swimmers in the spring. Miller comes to Rutgers from Salem High School in New Hampshire and the New England Barracudas Swim Team. Miller is a three-time USA Swimming scholar-athlete. He has been a high school All-American in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He has won three state high school swimming championships. He is outstanding in the 50 (21.5), 100 (46) and 200 freestyle events (1:41). He is also a solid individual medley swimmer.
Zach Shimota comes to Rutgers from Eden Prarie High School and Coach Ann Uschel’s Team Foxjet in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was a high school All-American as a junior and was the Minnesota 2004 State Champion in the 500 (4:37) freestyle and runner-up in the 200 (1:42). Shimota was an outstanding baseball player before devoting more time to swimming. His versatility in being able to compete at a high level in the individual medley and backstroke events will be a great plus for the Scarlet Knights.
Eric Lane will join the men’s program from New Canaan High School and Coach Jason Paige’s New Canaan Y swim team in Connecticut. Lane is an outstanding student that will enroll in Engineering. He was a high school all-American in the 100 breaststroke as a junior. Lane was a finalist at the 2004 National Y Championships in both breaststroke events (59/2:08). He will also provide the men’s team with quality depth as a sprint freestyle swimmer. He has posted strong times in both the 50 and 100 freestyle.
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams are off to strong starts. Both teams swept Connecticut in its season-opening meet on Nov. 6 and split vs. Princeton on Nov. 21, with the women securing a convincing victory. Both teams return to action at the Princeton Invitational on Dec. 3-5.