Ohio State, after sending one of the country’s biggest squad to the 2012 Olympic Trials last week in Omaha, has added two Aggie transfers to their women’s squad. Texas A&M’s Kristina Kontrimas and New Mexico State’s Aliena Schmidtke will both change their allegiances from similarly-mascoted schools to the Buckeyes next year as they join a massive incoming freshman class.
Kontrimas will have two years of eligibility left after three years in College Station (she redshirted the 2010-2011 season). Schmidtke spent just one season at New Mexico State after signing out of Germany as a top-50 recruit and one of the best signees in program history.
The former Aggie came to college as an middle-distance freestyler, and as a prep swimmer was a Texas private school high school record holder in the 500 freestyle. But after returning from her redshirt season, she was more of a sprint type, with bests of 23.15, 50.76, and 1:50.29 in the sprint freestyles at the Big 12 Championships.
But she was even better last year at a Sectional championship meet, where she was presumably shooting for Olympic qualifying times. There, in yards, she swam a 49.86 in the 100 free and a 1:48.79 in the 200 free: both lifetime bests. Based on those best times, she would slide right onto all three of the Ohio State free relays.
She holds dual American and Lithuanian citizenship, but competes for Lithuania internationally where she holds the National Record in the 400 free. Ohio State coach Bill Dorenkott says that her event schedule will start with the 200 free, and will move up-or-down from there depending.
Schmidtke qualified for the NCAA Championship in her first year in the states, and is also a 50-100-200 freestyler. She finished near the bottom of the standings at NCAA’s, but used her taper at the WAC Championships. Her bests of 22.82, 49.28, and 1:46.38. The last of those times would have been the fastest on the Buckeyes’ team last year, and she also should be on all three free relays next season.
The addition of these two swimmers will combine to launch the Buckeye relays into All-American status, especially the 800 free relay that, if all goes to plan, should push for a top-12 spot at NCAA’s next year.
Combined with the outstanding recruiting class that counts swimmers Annie Lazor and Annie Gillig (and Annie Jongekrijg for that matter) among its ranks, this is a program on the rise with top-20 potential next season. That class took an even higher profile last week when Lazor made the semi-finals in the women’s 200 breaststroke.
The Buckeyes also return all 9 NCAA qualifiers, and graduate fewer than 10 swimming points from their third-place Big Ten Championship meet squad last season. Considering that four years ago, when Bill Dorenkott took over the team the Buckeyes didn’t have a single NCAA qualifier, that’s a significant turnaround and this is a team that could contend with Minnesota and Indiana for next season’s Big Ten title.
Their biggest gap will be the loss of All-American diver Bianca Alvarez who was 2nd at last year’s NCAA Championships on the 3-meter springboard. These latest additions should more-than make up for those losses, however.