May 15, 2013
RENO, Nev. - The University of Nevada Swimming and Diving team will have six new faces during the 2013-14 season, as head swimming coach Abby Steketee announced the completion of her recruiting class on Wednesday.
"There are three overarching qualities of the incoming class," she said. "First, these young ladies are extremely versatile; each can compete in a variety of individual events and relays. Second, this is an intelligent group with strong academic interests. Third, each one of these student-athletes has a bit of sparkle personality-wise. Our entire coaching staff is thrilled to welcome such a bright, talented group and I personally am excited to help each reach her goals in and out of the pool."
The swimmers in the group are Teresa Baerens (Ottobrun, Germany), Sophia Cieplucha (Georgetown, Canada), Riley Hilbrandt (Saginaw, Mich.), Sita Kusserow (Buehl, Germany) and Arantxa Medina-Alegria (Hermosillo, Mexico). The lone diver among the six is Xiao Fu (Weifang, China). Fu was primarily recruited by Jian Li You, Nevada's head diving coach and a native of China.
Baerens is a freestyle swimmer who has posted the equivalent of two US Olympic Trials cuts to date. In the 100 meter freestyle, she has recorded a personal best of 57.04 in a long-course pool, which equates to a 50.42 time in yards. Internationally, swimmers compete in races measured in meters, while in American collegiate swimming, every race is measured in yards. In the 200 meter IM, she has recorded a personal best of 2:17.86, which translates to 2:00.90 in yards.
"In addition to being an accomplished musician and student, Teresa is an elite swimmer with room for even more improvement," Steketee said. "She has the capability to reach the highest level of swimming."
Cieplucha has primarily competed in breaststroke and IM events, posting the equivalent of one Olympic Trial cut in the 200 breaststroke. Her personal best of 2:29.41 in short course meters equates to a time of 2:14.36 in yards. She also has a personal best of 1:03.48 in the 100 breast after the conversion.
"Sophie is tremendously versatile and has potential to develop in many events beyond the breast and free," Steketee said. "She does not have a weak stroke and we're excited to have someone with her maturity and ability join us next year."
Hilbrandt could swim a variety of events at Nevada, as she has experience in the breaststroke, freestyle and individual medley disciplines. With her versatility, she will also be a humungous benefit to Nevada's relay teams. In the 200 yard freestyle, she boasts a personal best of 1:52.60 while her best 200 yard breaststroke is 2:19.92.
"Riley possesses a natural fluidity in the water even though she has a more limited training background," Steketee said. "Riley is delightfully sweet on land but she's tenacious in the water. As she elevates her training, she'll be dangerous in many events."
Kusserow, a butterfly and medley swimmer, has posted her strongest times in the 200 meter butterfly. Her time of 1:59.74 after the conversion to yards is good enough to qualify for the US Winter Nationals during the 2013 season, and her 2:16.16 long course time would have been a 2012 Olympic Trials cut swim.
"Sita is vibrant and motivated," Steketee said. "She is serious about academics and continues to improve her times in various events. Her swimming ability will have an immediate impact on the team and over time I think she'll develop into an effective leader."
Medina-Alegria shined brightest in sprint-breaststroke events during her junior career in Mexico. Both her 100 and 200 meter breast times are good enough to earn a place at the most recent Olympic Trials. Her 100 long course time equates to a 1:02.39, while her 200 long course time breaks down to a 2:15.62.
"Ary brings speed and experience to the team," Steketee said. "She is innately quick and is dedicated to working on technical details; overall, she has the right characteristics to flourish at the NCAA and international levels. Plus, Ary has a strong academic background and thoughtful personality. "
Fu will round out the class with another strong diver to add to the Nevada stable. She will contribute international experience and a list of dives with a high degree of difficulty to an already strong group. A Nevada diver has been named conference diver of the year in each of the last two seasons, with En-tien Huang in 2012 (WAC) and Stephanie Hansen in 2013 (Mountain West).