The Arizona Wildcats have been almost unstoppable early this recruiting season, with already six verbal commitments before most of the major programs have gotten more than two-or-three.
The three latest additions all came this weekend, with Emma McCarthy, Sarah Shimomura, and Annie Ochitwa all giving verbal pledges to Rick DeMont, his women’s recruiting coordinator Brandy Collins, and the Arizona Wildcats.
McCarthy comes from North Bay Aquatics in Larkspur, California where she also competes for Redwood-Visalia High School. She’s a talented and versatile freestyler who as a junior made her first Winter Nationals cut in the 200 yard free, swimming a 1:49.33.
She’s rangy, swimming a 51.90 in the 100 yard free up to a 4:54.54 in the 500 yard freestyle.
This past summer, she really made some progress in long course, and finished the season racing at NCSA’s in Indianapolis.
She had several lifetime bests at that meet, and while some drops (100 free – 8-tenths over the season) were bigger than others (200 free – 1-tenth over the season), the depth of her season-long performances should great progress. Year-over-year, she made a lot of improvements as compared to similar meets last year, which is a good sign for her overall development – especially as a relative latecomer to the sport, beginning serious year-round training in 8th grade.
McCarthy has an impressive athletic pedigree – her father Mike McCarthy was a two-time Olympian in track cycling in 1988 and 1992, and won the individual pursuit event at the 1992 UCI World Championships.
Among the reasons she cited for choosing Arizona is what she describes as a “very clear, strong swimmer-coach relationship.”
“There’s a very clear, strong swimmer-coach relationship.” McCarthy said. She also was impressed with the amenities at Arizona, mentioning the facilities, as well as opportunities to volunteer and intern. She plans to study business at the Eller College of Management.
Shimomura is another freestyler who is also from Northern California and specifically the Santa Clara Swim Club.
In yards, Shimomura has bests of 51.19, 1:48.64, and 4:50.12 in the 100, 200, and 500 yard freestyles, but it’s during the summer long course season where she really showed off. In 2014 alone, she earned U.S. Open cuts in the 100, 200, and 400 meter freestyles, whereas in yards only her 500 makes that standard. She also has a long course juniors cut in the 800 free. Individually at this summer’s Junior Nationals, she was 45th in the 400 and 46th in the 200 freestyle.
Shimomura attends Archbishop Mitty High School. Her older brother, Sam, swam at Cal as a freshman last year.
And last, but not least, is Ochitwa, who along with the already-committed Brooke Hansen is one of the top two commits out of the state of Colorado in the class of 2015. She swims at the Denver Swim Academy and attends Thunderridge High School.
Ochitwa is the defending Colorado 5A State Champion in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyles, swimming 23.11 and 49.92, respectively, as a junior.
That time in the 100 free is her best, but she’s been much faster in the 50, going 22.74 at Winter Juniors last December. She also swims a 1:49.13 in the 200 free.
Ochitwa doesn’t move as far into the distance freestyles as her other two classmates above. She makes up for that though by having very good secondary and tertiary strokes as well: she goes 54.48 in the 100 back and 1:58.18 in the 200 back, plus a 54.74 in the 100 fly for good measure.
Senczyszyn is the only breaststroker of the class (1:00.7/2:15.0), and Rumrill has the best fly of the group by some margin (53.6).
After that, Arizona coaches have some options with this class over the long-term. Carrozza, Ochitwa, Shimomura, and McCarthy are all great freestylers, and Ochitwa and Carrozza are great backstrokers.
Arizona will have a year, at least, to sort it all out – their great backstroker Bonnie Brandon and breaststroker Emma Schoettmer will be around when this class enters Arizona, to provide a year of veteran leadership before this class is handed the keys.
What’s more, everyone in this class really can swim freestyle – and with 75% of all of their free relays graduating from last season, replenishing those ranks will be an immediate need – and one that Arizona has targeted with great success.
The fun might not be done yet in Tucson. Two of the best sprinters in the class, Victoria Toris and Amy Bilquist, are planning trips to Arizona. If both of them were land in Rick DeMont’s pool, then the Wildcats might have an insurmountable lead for number-one class.