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She’s not the first commitment in the high school class of 2025, but high school junior Alex Shackell is the one who will move the earth for the newest group of collegiate competitors. Shackell was a member of Team USA at the 2023 World Championships, where she won silver as a finals leg of the US team in the 800 free relay.
World Championship silver medalist Alex Shackell, the #1-rated recruit in the class, has verbally committed to the Cal Golden Bears. There she will join her older brother Aaron Shackell, who is a Cal freshman this season.
There, the Shackell siblings will swim for head coach Dave Durden and associate head coach David Marsh. Marsh was the head coach at Auburn when their parents Nick and Ali were on the varsity team there, including father Nick’s Olympic appearance in 1996 representing Great Britain.
Durden was also an assistant at Auburn while Ali was on the team.
While the 4-time NCAA Champion Cal women are no strangers to elite recruits (Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklin among many others in the last 25 years), this is the first mega-recruit for the program since the team combined under former men’s head coach Dave Durden.
And both Durden and Marsh have plenty of credentials coaching women as well. The Auburn women won 5 NCAA titles while Marsh was the head coach, and both Franklin and Coughlin spent periods training under Durden during their time at Cal.
Alex Shackell, 16, is the kind of recruit who is a perfect fit for Durden and Marsh. She is a sprinter who can excel in all five relays and restart a Cal women’s team that has been in a down cycle in the last few years amid the termination of their longtime head coach Teri McKeever on abuse findings.
Best Times in Yards, Meters:
And while the speed is what the program really needs to accelerate its rebuilding, she has NCAA Champion potential in the 200 fly, 200 IM, and 400 IM as well. She’s the 5th-fastest 15-16 in US history in the 200 meter fly, for example.
When Shackell arrives at Cal, the team will be racing in the ACC, and she will immediately be a conference title contender.
But more than that, she is an instant NCAA title contender. Her best times from her sophomore year of high school would have already earned her around 35-40 individual points at last year’s NCAA Championships – a meet where Cal was 11th and only scored 137 total points. That included 45 total individual points.
She comes from Carmel, Indiana and the Carmel Swim Club, among the most elite youth programs in the country. Through two seasons of high school swimming, she already has seven Indiana High School State Championships.
At the 2023 US National Championships and World Championship Trials, she finished 5th in the 200 free to qualify for the World Championship team. She also finished 6th in the 100 fly and 5th in the 200 fly.
More importantly, this establishes the Durden/Marsh regime as a major player in the women’s market, not just the men’s – where as the two-time defending NCAA Champions, the program is already on top of the world.
With Cal joining the ACC, home to the country’s top women’s program Virginia, this sets up for some juggernaut matchups for the next decade and beyond.
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