Swim Recruits Highly Ranked

The incoming class for the men's swimming and diving team was recently ranked 25th nationally by Collegeswimming.com, while the incoming members of the women's squad were listed as a team to watch.

"We are excited about our classes this year,'' Head Coach Chuck Knoles said. "My staff and I have worked tirelessly to try to bring some of the top scholar-athletes in the world to Pittsburgh. With two new coaches this past season, the challenge was tough, but they were up to the task.''

The men will be adding one of the biggest and best classes in recent history with incoming freshmen traveling from as far away as South Africa and Germany and the remainder of the class including several local Pennsylvanians.

Leading off this year's class are three early signees in Alex Navarro, Steven Forrest and Jake Lucas. Navarro hails from Redwood City, Calif., and is a middle distance specialist. He has best times of 46 seconds in the 100-yard freestyle, 1:38 in the 200 and 4:31 in the 500 free.

"Alex is an amazing talent that will be looked to lead our middle distance free group,'' Knoles commented.

Forrest hails from State College, Pa. and is tremendous in the butterfly and has dropped a substantial amount of time over the past 18 months.

"Steven will add needed depth to the middle distance and fly group,'' Knoles added.

Rounding out the men's early signees is Lucas from Midland, Va. He is another excellent butterfly specialist with times of 49.85 in the 100 and 22.69 in the 50.

"Jake will be able to come in and be a huge impact in our sprint fly and free events,'' Knoles said.

The men added five additional recruits in the spring signing period, including Rousseau Kluever, Dawid Goszczycki, Aidan Considine, Christoph Berger and Ryan Lynn.

Coming to Pitt all the way from Cape Town, South Africa is Kluever. Kluever specializes in the fly and IM events and has been one of the top males in South Africa in his age group. He has turned in times of 57 seconds and 2:02 in the long course fly and 2:08 and 4:29 in the individual medley.

"Rousseau will lead a very strong fly and IM group,'' Knoles said. "He comes to Pitt with a wealth of international experience, and we know he'll put the background to good use at our conference championship.''

Another international recruit, Goszczycki will arrive from Poland via Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and his best times are 1:43 (200), 4:37 (500) and 16:16 (1,650) in the free and 4:05 in the 400 IM.

"Dawid is an extremely versatile swimmer who will help us in the middle distance and distance free events as well as the IM events,'' Knoles said.

Considine is from Columbia, Md., with best times of 1:54 and 4:05 in the IM, 2:07 in the 200 breaststroke and 4:38 in the 500 free.

"Aidan is very similar to Dawid and both will provide tremendous depth in many events. Aidan can also handle any events from the 200 to the mile,'' Knoles said.

Berger is Pitt's second Virginia recruit, hailing from Mechanicsville. He has scored at Junior Nationals as well as sectionals in many different events. His best times are 1:42 (200) and 4:38 (500) in the free, 4:01 in the 400 IM and 1:52 in both the 200 fly and 200 back.

"Christoph's fiery competitive spirit will be a great addition to the middle distance and distance group,'' Knoles said. "He will definitely push those athletes to excel every day.''

Rounding out the men's class is Lynn from Landenberg, Pa. He is a state finalist and has excelled at Junior Nationals with best times of 1:41 (200) and 4:36 (500) in the free.

"Ryan will add some strong depth to the freestyle ranks for the Panthers,'' Knoles commented. "He is a tremendous athlete who will make a tremendous impact to our program.''

The women's early signing period brought in some of the best talent Pitt had right out of high school, which included Megan Bender, Tamara Lelli and Elena Spak.

The first of several additions is Bender from Allen Park, Mich. She placed in the top three at the 2007 summer YMCA Nationals in the 50 and 100 back. Her best times of :56 and 2:04 in the backstrokes will allow her to play a significant role at Pitt in her freshman year.

"Megan has tremendous size and skill and we look forward to her coming in and pushing our backstroke group to be even better,'' Knoles said.

From Scottsdale, Ariz., Lelli was the 2008 Arizona state champion in the 100 fly. Her best times are 55 seconds and 2:03 in the sprint fly events.

"Tamara was an excellent find for us,'' Knoles noted. "She will more than replace the fly talent we graduated this year.''

The final women's recruit from the early signing period was Spak from Rockville, Md. She is a sprint specialist who is aiming to qualify for the Olympic Trials in the 50 free this summer. Her best times are 23.5 (50), 51.0 (100) and 1:51.2 (200).

"Elena has some of the best feel for the water I've seen,'' Knoles said. "We look forward to adding her to our deep sprint corps.

"All of these young men and women are fine, upstanding people who will carry on the tradition of Panther Pride. They all are phenomenal athletes as well as students. We look forward to working with them in helping us on our quest to the top of the conference and the NCAA.''

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