Three members of the suspended Western Kentucky swimming & diving team will transfer to East Carolina next season, according to a source close to the program. Logan Graumann, Elizabeth Baertlein, and John Myhre, all three of whom have just completed their freshmen seasons, will all move 650 miles east on I-40 to Greenville, North Carolina and join the American Athletic Conference’s Pirates.
Last season, the ECU men won the program’s first-ever AAC team championship (in any sport for that matter), while the women finished 3rd to SMU and UConn. With these three transfers, Rick Kobe’s squad will come out as the biggest beneficiary so far from the fallout of WKU’s 5-year suspension.
Elizabeth Baertlein, backstroker, Eagle, Wisconsin
Baertlein will plug one of East Carolina’s biggest holes from last season. While their top 5 fastest 100 backstrokers from a year ago return, the fastest was freshman Julie Lajoie in just 56.75. Baertlein’s best will already improve that by more than a second after swimming a 55.66 at the end of her freshman season. She’s also been 1:59.90 in the 200 backstroke, which is two seconds better than Lajoie’s time.
Last year’s East Carolina 400 medley relay took 2nd place at the AAC Championships, and they will return all four members of that relay. While they had a 1.28 second deficit in that race to SMU, putting Baertlein’s best on the backstroke leg would have made the race nearly a dead-heat. In total, Baertlein should have at least a 35 point impact upon ECU’s conference scoring
Logan Graumann, sprint freestyler/backstroker, Maryville, Tennessee
Graumann will battle Baertlein for the backstroke spot on East Carolina’s medley relays, thanks to a lifetime best of 55.24 done at last year’s Conference USA Championship meet. Much like mentioned above, Graumann could have made the 400 medley relay outcome shift in favor of the Pirates were she on the roster last season.
Graumann doesn’t extend much to the 200 backstroke, however, preferring instead the sprint freestyles. She’s been as fast as 23.07 in the 50 free and 51.17 in the 100 free (the latter as a high school senior).
She should immediately join both the 200 and 400 free relays with her new team, as her best times would’ve ranked 1st and 2nd in the 50 and 100, respectively, last season. In her sophomore season, Graumann should be good for at least 40 individual points.
The East Carolina women are very young in a lot of spots, but especially the sprint freestyles. With the addition of Baertlein and Graumann to shore up some of the team’s weaknesses they’ll be favored to take 2nd place at next year’s AAC Championship meet, with an eye on closing the gap on defending champions SMU.
John Myhre, sprint freestyler/backstroker, Knoxville, Tennessee
The East Carolina men impressed last year to win the ACC Championship, but are in a small rebuilding mode for the 2015-2016 season after huge graduations.
Fortunately for the Pirates, their sprint freestyle group remained mostly intact, graduating just one of their six fastest – senior Nikola Simic (19.87 and 43.75 in the 50 and 100 frees). Simic is the team’s only loss from their conference meet free relays, though their medleys each lost three of four.
That makes Myhre an important piece of trying to defend their conference titles in the 200 and 400 free relays, and while neither will be a guarantee, he should have the chance to compete for spots on both of those relays with flat-start personal bests of 20.39 and 45.35, respectively.
He’ll be more of a safe-bet to take Simic’s spot on the 800 free relay, where a 1:38.28 would’ve made him the Pirates’ second-fastest swimmer last year in the event. The team won that event at the AAC Championships as well by two-and-a-half seconds,, thanks to all three rolling start swimmers far outperforming their best flat-start times.
Myhre has a lot of versatility, and in high school was a very good 500 and 1000 freestyler as well. He also has bests of 49.96 and 1:46.15 in the 100 and 200 yard backstrokes, the latter of which could leave him on the medal podium at the AAC Championships.