The Stanford women are just on an unreal streak of recruiting. It’s going to be a fun few years in the Bay area, as the Stanford and Cal women look like they’re going to be the leaders of women’s NCAA swimming at least until Rio.
Head coach Greg Meehan’s latest verbal commitment comes from Ally Howe, a local swimmer out of Tony Batis’ Palo Alto-Stanford Aquatics club. This is the Cardinal’s fourth elite recruit of the season, which is more than all of the (public) elite verbal commitments for the rest of the country combined.
“I chose Stanford because I loved everything about it from the swim team to the academics to the environment to the student body,” Howe said. “It’s a place where I feel I can succeed in the pool and in the classroom while having some fun along the way.”
Part of what makes Howe so valuable, especially as this Stanford team looks like one that is going to have a ton of pieces covering just about every piece of the schedule, is her versatility. She has the potential to fill in if any number of these incredible recruits get injured, stop developing, or burn out.
Starting with the freestyles, Howe’s bests are 22.8, 49.5, 1:47.5, and 4:48.4. With the likes of Lia Neal and Janet Hu coming in, Howe’s presence on a free relay is a bonus. (Shocking that a 22.8/49.5 coming out of high school will have to really hustle to make free relays in her first few years).
The rest of her strokes are unreal. She’s been 52.3 in the 100 yard back and 1:53.5 in the 200 yard back. Those times both were done as a high school junior in 2013, and both would have also scored at NCAA’s in 2013 (though, of course, the price of a backstroke finalist will continue to skyrocket in the next few years).
She was also 53.1 in the 100 fly back in the spring of 2011 as a high school freshman. She’s been 1:57.7 in the 200 fly. Throw on top of that a 1:58 in the 200 IM and a 4:12 in the 400 IM (and a 1:05 100 breaststroke, if the rest weren’t enough), and it’s clear how valuable she is.
Backstroke is ‘her thing’ though, and that’s where the Cardinal need help the most – they’re currently very thin in that area.
Looking at Stanford’s class so far is enough to make one drool. It’s reminiscent of the Rachel Bootsma/Liz Pelton class at Cal, only this Stanford class also has a breaststroker.
The potential medley:
Heidi Poppe (1:00.3/2:13.1)
Janet Hu (52.0/1:55.7)
Lindsey Engel (22.2/48.9)
That’s a 3:33.5 aggregate, without counting relay starts, and with best times through just their junior years of high school. That would have placed in the top 10 at NCAA’s last year. And that’s just for illustrative purposes: Hu is a 22.1 and 48.6 in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, and this class is just one year behind the addition of Olympian Lia Neal. And Maddy Schaefer, a former 17-18 National Age Group Record holder, will be a senior to overlap with this group for a year. It is just staggering what these relays could do. Plus a couple of former Junior National Team breaststrokers who will have two years of overlap. Meehan is looking at a veritable all-star team of former junior-level stars. The records that the Cal women will inevitably break in the next few years could be broken again by Stanford.
If Stanford doesn’t win an NCAA title in the next 4 years, it will be a complete head-scratcher as to why. Perhaps only the Cal women can keep them from it. At any rate, this rivalry looks like it’s on the way to be a fun decade of swimming, and hopefully the two programs will push each other to even more absurd heights in the sport.
The Farm has a bright future with an incredible stable of talent.