High school senior Abbey Weitzeil has decided to defer her enrollment in Cal until after the 2016 Olympic Trials and Olympic Games, she confirmed to SwimSwam on Tuesday.
“It was a tough decision, but I decided to stay with Coley (Stickels) for a year to keep up the same training I am doing now,” Weitzeil said. “Coley knows me and my swimming best and sticking with what has been working well, as well as trying some new things that he has in mind, is what I feel could benefit my swimming the most. Although I am staying here for a year, I can’t wait to start my journey as a Golden Bear next year!”
This means that Weitzeil will continue training under Coley Stickels at the Canyons Aquatic Club for one more season before joining Teri McKeever’s crew in Berkeley.
Weitzeil is the fastest American junior swimmer in history in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles (21.49 and 46.29, respectively), and the fastest ever at any age in the 100 (American/U.S. Open Record holder). That makes this decision a blow to Cal in the short-term, with top relay swimmer Missy Franklin planning to turn pro at the conclusion of this season, but it will give Weitzeil the opportunity to focus on long course training (50 meter pool) with a goal of making the Olympic Team. Weitzeil will still have four years of NCAA eligibility, if she chooses to use them all.
Last summer, the Pan Pacs team member placed 5th in the 50 meter free and 4th in the 100 meter free at the long course Summer National Championships. Overall, she was the 5th-best American 100 freestyler with the top 6 expected to be selected for the 2016 Olympic Team.
In 2012, Natalie Coughlin was the 6th-place finisher at the Olympic Trials in the 100 free with a 54.44. With the emergence of talented young sprinters like Weitzeil, Lia Neal, Simone Manuel, and Missy Franklin, along with post-grads who bloomed a little later in their careers like Margo Geer and Shannon Vreeland, the bar for 2016 qualification is expected to be much higher.
Meanwhile, Katie Ledecky, another of the top recruits in the class of 2015, has still not announced whether she will be deferring her freshman year at Stanford as well, though she has acknowledged that it’s under consideration. Ledecky was the #1-ranked recruit in the high school girls’ class of 2015, while Weitzeil was #2.