Vanessa Pearl of Metroplex Aquatics announced her verbal commitment to the University of Florida Wednesday, breaking the news over twitter. She attends McKinney Boyd High School in McKinney, Texas.
Extremely excited to announce my verbal commitment to swim for the University of Florida! Go Gators! ??? pic.twitter.com/TYkAkgBOyy
— V (@vanessapearl01) May 31, 2017
Pearl, a native of Allen, Texas, is the #6 ranked recruit in our recent top-20 rankings for the 2018-19 season. Pearl is very versatile, boasting the accolade of being the top 400 IMer in the class. Her personal best of 4:06.73 would have easily scored at NCAAs last year, just missing the A-final cut (4:06.00). Florida has been known for producing excellent IMers in the past, with examples including Ryan Lochte, Elizabeth Beisel and Conor Dwyer.
Along with her 400 IM prowess, Pearl was also a national junior team member in the 200 breaststroke back in 2015-16. Her short course best of 2:08.51 would have also cracked the consolation final at NCAAs in March, giving the Gators some much needed star power that was lacking this year. Despite all of the success the men’s team has had recently, the women went scoreless at NCAAs for the first time in program history this past season. Pearl will be a welcome addition for the Gators in 2018. Her 200 breast is ranked 2nd amongst the 2018-19 class, trailing only #3 Zoe Bartel‘s 2:07.73.
Discussing why she chose Florida, Pearl mentioned she had an instant connection with the coaches, and loved the campus and her program.
“I chose UF because I believe it is the best fit for me. I quickly had a great connection with the coaches and feel that they will push me to become the best swimmer I can be. I fell in love with the program and the people who are in it. The campus is absolutely breathtaking and I adore the location. In addition to swimming I will be pursuing environmental engineering as my major.”
She began swimming at the age of 6, and also played volleyball and basketball as a kid. At the age of 11 she decided to drop volleyball to focus solely on swimming. “I started swimming when I was 6 years old and have always loved the sport and I have a deep appreciation for how much it has taught me throughout the years.”
Though no family members of hers swam collegiately, her father played basketball for the University of South Alabama and went onto play three years professionally in Belgium after school.
In a potential NCAA lineup Pearl probably leans more towards the 200 IM over the 100 breast for her third individual event, mostly due to the fact that the 100 breast is the same day as the 400 IM. Her 100 PB of 1:00.3 is a bit closer to scoring at NCAAs than her 200 IM (1:58.1) is, however (based off 2017 results).
Pearl is the third top-ten recruit to make a verbal commitment, following #5 Cassidy Bayer‘s commitment to Cal and #10 Julia Cook‘s verbal to Texas. She joins British breaststroker Layla Black in Florida’s 2018 class.
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