Admittedly, the 2012-2013 season wasn’t a banner year for the Auburn women. They took a rare dip outside of the top 10 when they finished 13th at the NCAA Championships.
Head coach Brett Hawke, though, lives on with his reputation as one of the world’s top sprint coaches, and he’s reloading in a hurry for next season. The latest addition to his class is Australian sprinter Alexandra Purcell, who is one of the world’s top junior sprinters.
According to a list posted by the Florida Swimming LSC late last summer, Purcell was the 4th-ranked 18 & under in the 50 long course meters freestyle last year with a 24.95 from the Australian Olympic Trials in March. That converts to under 22 seconds in the 50 yard freestyle, and she will be a true freshman (she’s only 17 years old, and swam that 24.9 when she was only 16.)
Don’t put much faith in conversions? Here’s the list of the Americans in the class of 2013 who have been faster than that in the 50 free in long course:____.
In other words, nobody. Not Missy Franklin, not Lia Neal, not Olivia Smoliga. Smoliga leads the American part basis of the class with a 25.39. Smoliga’s best time was done en route to a silver medal at the Jr. Pan Pac Championships in 2012, which is a race that Purcell won.
Purcell has also been 55.49 in the 100 free in long course (48.5 converted), and a 2:05.4 in the 200 meter free (1:49.7 in yards converted).
Purcell trains with the same Southport Olympic squad in Australia that produced Olympic talent Cameron McEvoy, and is one of the hottest junior-level teams down under, and has very good starts (typically better than .7 on her reaction time.)
She should immediately step into the sprint spot vacated by the graduating Hannah Riordan.
In other Auburn news, breaststroker Tryshia Centeno-Rosa has transferred to Florida Gulf Coast for her senior season. In her one year at Auburn, she made solid improvements and got her 100 yard race down to a 1:01.75; she came to the Tigers after spending her freshman and sophomore seasons at Indian River State College in Florida.