Jillian Vitarius out of the elite Kingwood High School and Blue Tide programs in Houston, Texas has made herself the first swimmer in the class of 2012 to verbally commit to swim for Auburn next fall. Vitarius is ranked by collegeswimming.com as the #3 recruit in the state of Texas and #20 recruit overall.
Vitarius is your classic long-axis swimmer who excels in both the freestyle and backstroke events, but especially the backstroke events. At this summer’s USA Swimming National Championships (the senior version), she placed 24th in the 100 back and grabbed a win in the B-final (11th overall) in the 200 back. In short course competition, she was the runner-up in both the 50 and the 100 at last year’s NCSA Junior Nationals, behind only Cal commit Rachel Bootsma, and won the 200 back by almost three seconds.
Her best yards times in the backstrokes are 53.43 and 1:54.04, respectively; that 200 time is already good enough to have placed her 12th at last year’s NCAA Championships, and she would have been very close in the 100 as well.
Vitarius also seems poised to develop into a solid free relay piece for the Tigers. She comes in with a best of 51.11 in the 100 free and 1:49.8 in the 200 free, which are times that freestyle-master Brett Hawke can surely develop.
This is a great piece of overlap-recruiting by Hawke. First of all, he got himself an individual NCAA scoreer, which is what Auburn really needs to push themselves back into the top 5 on a perennial basis. Secondly, though Auburn has a great backstroker already in Emily Bos to fill the relay spots, they lacked a ton of depth in the stroke. Bos will be a junior when Vitarius is a freshman, and now Vitarius will be there to push her more veteran teammate in practice and to gain some valuable experience before she’s needed to take over medley relay duty.
Vitarius took an unofficial visit to Auburn in the spring, and when she returned for her official trip in September, she was ready to make her decision.
Vitarius was a part of the NCSA Junior National Team that just took a trip overseas to train and compete in Japan. Accompying her on that trip was teammate Jordan Jones, who is the #15 recruit in the country on the men’s side, and would also make a lot of sense at Auburn. That will be an interesting story to watch develop, though I have a feeling that Texas coach Eddie Reese is going to fight pretty hard to keep Jones in-state.