Auburn’s Brett Hawke and new staff for the 2013-2014 season have inked top 40 recruit Zoe Thatcher from the Mason Manta Rays under Ken Heis out of Cincinnati, Ohio tonight.
Thatcher is primarily a distance freestyler. Thatcher’s bests include a 1:47.59/4:44.72/16:19.37 200/500/1650 freestyles, plus a 4:19.23 400 IM. Hawke will look to Thatcher to fill a major roster gap in his freestyle gaps, since freshman Ashley Neidigh seems to be the only current swimmer on the team who will compete in the 500/1000/1650 freestyle this season.
Thatcher had an explosive junior year campaign. She emerged on the Junior National scene last winter in December 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee. There she finished 3rd in the 500, in the 4th 1650, plus consolation finishes in the 200 freestyle, 400 IM, and 200 backstroke.
Her high school junior year was no short of success. At Southwest Districts, she erased a 29-year-old record in the 200 freestyle. The next week she won both the 200 and 500 freestyles at the State Meet, her second consecutive 500 title.
And at the fastest Junior Nationals to date this past summer in Irvine, she recorded best times, plus a top 16 finish in the 400m freestyle. Her best times long course stand at 2:04.36/4:18.18/16:48.9 in the freestyles and 4:59.03 IM.
“So much of swimming is about mental toughness,” Thatcher told SWIMSWAM, “And I really believe the coaches at Auburn will help me be both stronger in the mind and faster in the pool.”
“And Auburn just felt like home,” Thatcher said. “There’s just something special about the place. I’m so excited to be a Tiger. WAR EAGLE!”
Thatcher has a lot of talent in front of her. She is tall and lean, with a very smooth stroke, great streamline and underwater kicks, even as a distance freestyler, are all parts of her great foundation heading into collegiate athletics.
Another fun fact of Thatcher, her entire swimming career she has not trained long course meters, at all. That, plus more dryland and strength training, Thatcher can expect to fulfill Hawke’s expectations for her.
She will immediately score points at SEC’s, and with the easy elevations to her training at Auburn, expect to see her at NCAA’s and scoring.