FORT MYERS, Fla. – FGCU head swimming & diving coach Neal Studd announced on Tuesday the nine-member 2012-13 recruiting class that will help the Eagles defend their four-straight Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association (CCSA) titles next season.
“With such a talented group of seniors I was worried about replacing them, but I think we have done it again,” said Studd. “In this group we have several athletes on national teams and with times that can come in and compete for a chance to go the NCAA championships. This is our best recruiting class to date as the team every year keeps moving forward. What’s important here is not only are these athletes fast, but they are some great students and good people that share my vision for what is important in collegiate athletics. We are in a very fortunate place that so many great people want to come to our team.”
The 2012-13 recruiting class includes, Sara Hamilton (Stonehaven, Scotland/Stonehaven), Julie Leth-Espensen (Vanloese, Copenhagen, Denmark), Jennifer Morgan (Edmonton, Canada), Samantha Rahael (Trinidad &Tobago/The Bolles School (Jacksonville, Fla.), Lani Cabrera (Miami, Fla./Davie Nadadores Swim Team), Kellie Roedig (Huntingdon Valley, Pa./Abington Senior HS), Meghan McGuirk (Hightstown, N.J./Peddie School) and two transfers in Megan Wolfe (Sebring, Fla./Sebring HS/Daytona State College) and Sarah Maraskine (Midland, Mich./Dow HS/Eastern Michigan).
Hamilton committed to the Eagles back in the early signing period on Nov. 29. She was ranked as high as No. 47, according to collegeswimming.com.
“Sara signed with us in the fall and is a very good sprinter from Scotland,” said Studd. “She was a member of the Commonwealth Games team and made the semifinal at that very prestigious meet. With Sara, our sprint relays really become a big factor as we push to get more people qualified to nationals. Sara can also swim a great IM, backstroke and sprint fly. She can really contribute to the team in a number of areas.”
Leth-Espensen is a talented Danish swimmer who can help the Eagles with her strong individual medley and breastroke times. Leth-Espensen has a 2.58 power index rating, which ranks her No. 47 on collegeswimming.com. She earned a first-place finish in the 200 breast at the Danish Championships in 2008 and a first-place finish in the 200 IM at the Portuguese Championships in 2009.
“Julie is an outstanding IM swimmer and with that she can swim a lot of different events for us but especially breastroke and butterfly,” said Studd. “She is a member of the Danish National Senior Team. She is good friends with one of our former swimmers so FGCU was highly recommended to her. Julie has the ability to qualify for NCAA’s and to be a huge part of the continued growth of FGCU. I am very excited to start working with her.”
Morgan comes to the Green and Blue from Edmonton, Canada where she recently had a solid 2012 Olympic trail run. Morgan was part of a 200-free relay team that took the bronze medal and her 200-meter backstroke time of 2:17.73 was 16th in the country in an event that has one of the deepest fields in the world. She was named to the Canadian Junior national team for the North American Challenge Cup from July 30th till August 5th. Morgan has a 4.33 power index rating that puts her ranked No. 101, according to collegeswimming.com.
“Jennifer will come in as our top 200 backstroker and will swim the 100 back and 200 free,” said Studd. “She will help the team tremendously on relays and is a very exciting prospect. She recently made finals at the Canadian Olympic Trials. Jennifer during her visit immediately felt part of the team and will fit in with our vision for the future here. She will have a shot at qualifying for NCAA championships. Jennifer picked FGCU over LSU and FIU.”
Rahael brings a lot of international experience after a solid prep career at the Bolles program where current FGCU swimmers Regina Rodriguez and Danielle Beaubrun are alumni. Rahael was awarded Trinidad and Tobago’s 2011 Swimmer of the Year back in February. She also has numerous achievements including, Trinidad and Tobago National Swim team member for Carifta Swimming Championship (2004-2010), Caribbean Island Swimming Championships (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010) and the captain of the Under-18 Trinidad and Tobago National Team (2008-09).
“Joining us from the great Bolles program we have high hopes for Sammy,” said Studd. “The swimmers we have had from Bolles are always well coached and have a good team attitude and Sammy is no exception. When Sammy visited FGCU she committed on the visit as she liked it so much and felt right at home. She will really help us out in the IM and breastroke events. I am really excited to see what Sammy can do for us. She will also be working hard to qualify for international events for her home country like so many others have done here at FGCU.”
Cabrera joins the Eagles after training with the Davie Nadadores Swim team and participated in the 2011 Pan American games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Cabrera represents Barbados internationally and holds five Barbados’ records in the 200-meter free (2:06.52), 400-meter free (4:25.63), 800-meter free (9:00.09), 1500-meter free (17:16.87) and 400-meter IM (5:14.52).
“Lani has been improving fast all year as part of the very good Davie Navadores team,” said Studd. “She is pushing hard for an Olympic Berth for Barbados this summer and has great range in the freestyles so she can help on relays but will focus on the distance events primarily. She can also swim some great 400 IM’s. She swam at the Pan American Games in Mexico last fall and is a fierce competitor that can keep improving. Lani had a lot of options so I am delighted she will join the FGCU family.”
Roedig comes to FGCU from Huntingdon Valley, Pa. where she finished third in the Middle Atlantic Senior Championships in the 1650 free (17:12.91). Roedig was ninth in the 100 free at the Middle Atlantic Senior Champioships with a time of 10:24.09. Roedig specializes in middle distance freestyler as she swims the 200 free, 500 free, 800 free, 1000 free and the 1650 free.
“Kellie is a great student-athlete that committed to us way back in September,” said Studd. “She is an up-and-coming middle distance to distance freestyler who is very excited at coming to school in Florida. She is the type of person and student that we want at FGCU.”
McGuirk swims a variety of events from the 100-yard free, 100 breast and 200 IM adding depth to the Eagles’ roster. McGuirk placed fourth in the “A” final of the 200 IM at the 122th Eastern Interscholastic Swimming Championships with a time of 2:08.59. In the same meet, she finished 15th in the 100 breast with a time of 1:09.12. According to collegeswimming.com, McGuirk is ranked 21st in the state of New Jersey.
“Another good student-athlete from a school with great coaching and tradition, Meghan is from the Peddie School,” said Studd. “While at a training camp at FGCU, Meghan thought this might be a place she would like to go to school. After meeting with her I felt she would be a great fit for us. Meghan will add depth to our breastroke, IM and freestyle events. I believe as her coaches do that she is just scrapping the surface of her potential and we feel lucky we get to help her develop that here at FGCU.”
Maraskine has one-year of eligibility left after enrolling into the Grad program here at FGCU. Maraskine was a three-year letter winner at Eastern Michigan as a backstroke specialist. In 2010, Maraskine was selected to the Mid-Major All-American Honorable Mention list and an Academic All-MAC honoree. She recorded the third fastest conference time in the 200 backstroke (2:02.07) and the fourth fastest conference time in the 100 backstroke (56.90).
“Going into graduate school, Sarah has one year of eligibility left as a transfer from EMU,” said Studd. “A very good backstroke and freestyle specialist, she is looking to have one great last year. Sarah can really help us out not only in individual events but on relays too. She really liked the atmosphere and winning culture we have created at FGCU and I am sure she will do great things.”
Lastly, Wolfe a transfer from Daytona State College can swim a variety of free style events for the Eagles. Wolf took third at Junior College Nationals in 2010 in the 50 free (23.83). She also swam in the 100 free with a time of 52.55, placing fifth. Wolfe will look to push FGCU’s relay teams to the next level as they try to qualify for the NCAA Championships next season.
“Megan is a Daytona State transfer who placed third at Junior College Nationals in 2010 in the 50 free,” said Studd. “She has had some injury problems but has been back in the pool and is back swimming fast again. I am excited to see what she can do at FGCU and the help she can give on our relays as we try to get the relays to the big show.”
For more information about the FGCU women’s swimming and diving team visit www.FGCUAthletics.com and follow @FGCUSwimandDive on Twitter for more updates.