The University of Pennsylvania Men’s Swimming and Diving Team picked up a verbal from distance swimmer Taylor Uselis out of Clearwater Aquatic Swim Team/ Palm Harbor University High School. Uselis is a strong freestyler with bests of 4:27/9:19/15:32 in the 500-1000-1650 freestyles and he has also been 4:04/8:21/16:01 in the 400-800-1500 meter freestyles respectively. He was the runner-up in the 500 freestyle and 3rd 200 freestyle at last year’s Florida 4A State Swimming Championships.
The Quakers were led by current sophomore Chris Swanson in the distance freestyles last year, as he competed at the 2013 NCAAs in the 500 and 1650 freestyles. Swanson set school records in both events at the 2013 Ivy League Championships, with times of 4:21.82 (3rd) and 15:02.11 (1st). His 1650 time was just 3.75 seconds off the Ivy League record of 14:58.35 set by Harvard’s John Cole back in 2005. Swanson also competed in the 1000 freestyle, and though it is not an NCAA event, he took 2nd at the conference meet with a winning time of 9:01.40.
Aside from Swanson, the Quakers also return sophomore Bradley Wachenfeld who was a 4:30 and 9:19 at last year’s conference meet. This means that Uselis will immediately help the distance group fortify its position at next year’s championships. He is already only a second off the 4:26.7 that it took to make the A-final in the 500 freestyle last year, and his 1650 would have taken 14th as well.
Additionally, the Quakers only had one swimmer, Sam Ruddy, who broke 1:40 in the 800 freestyle relay last year. Ruddy’s team-leading second-leg split of 1:39.54 suggests that Uselis may become a viable option for the 800 free relay when he enters college, as he boasts a personal best of 1:40.8 flat-start already. Ruddy is a junior, and he was also a 1:39.2 flat start in the 200 freestyle individual, so this increases the likelihood that the Quakers will need Uselis in the longer relay for the three years of eligibility that Taylor has remaining once Sam graduates.
Uselis trains with Clearwater Aquatics Team, the same club swim team that has produced 2012 Pan Pacific Junior Champion and 2013 Open Water Worlds qualifier Becca Mann. Perhaps the recent success of Mann is a good omen for Uselis’ training and potential improvement in the upcoming year.