Florida Gator Women sign 9 to the SEC Powerhouse

The University of Florida’s women’s swimming and diving program inked nine student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to swim or dive for the Gators, head coach Gregg Troy announced Thursday morning.

Florida tapped the United States coast-to-coast and signed a pair of talented student-athletes from New Zealand for the best talent, landing a tremendous class, including Sophia Batchelor (Canterbury, New Zealand), Hannah Burns (Gainesville, Fla.), Abigail Howell (Clermont, Fla.), Georgia Marris (New Zealand), Tyla Martin (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), Mollie Pulte (Troy, Mich.), Katie Rourke (Glenview, Ill.), Sydney Sell (Frankfort, Ky.), and Emma Spilman (Belleair, Fla.).

Howell and Rourke feature the first recruits by UF’s first-year diving coach, Dale Schultz, who is excited about the present and future for UF.

“I am extremely excited about my first recruiting class here at the University of Florida.” Schultz said. “With the divers that are currently here and the addition of Abigail and Katie, I look forward to having a strong nucleus for the future.”

Coach Gregg Troy echoed Schultz’ comments about his incoming swimmers.

“We are extremely excited about the quality and depth of the class,” Troy said. “We covered a lot of our needs with these student-athletes. This is an outstanding class of women that are not only extremely talented in the pool, but are great students as well.”


Sophia Batchelor (Canterbury, New Zealand)
Batchelor spent this fall at the University of California on its swimming team prior to making her decision to move to Gainesville. The Canterbury, New Zealand, native has been a member of the New Zealand National Team (age group) since 2008 and the National Team (open) since 2010. Batchelor competed at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona and finished 11th in the 50 butterfly (26.34), 20th in the 200 backstroke (2:12.89) and 23rd in the 100 butterfly (59.46). In addition, she captured the 100 butterfly title and was second in the 50 fly at the 2011 Commonwealth Games. Batchelor gained her first World Championships experience in 2011 in Shanghai, when she placed 32nd in the 200 backstroke (2:17.06), 39th in the 100 butterfly (1:01.92) and 41st in the 50 backstroke (29.90). She has broken New Zealand records more than 100 times over her career.

Coach Troy on Batchelor: “Sophia is a great addition to our team. She brings a wealth of international experience and will help us out in a lot of backstroke and butterfly events.”

Hannah Burns (Gainesville, Fla.)

According to CollegeSwimming.com, Burns is the No. 5-ranked recruit in the state of Florida and is the No. 29 overall swimmer in Class of 2015. In the pool during her career at Columbia, Burns is a five-time Florida state high school champion. Nationally, she is a USA National Junior Team member and was a 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier. Burns accolades continue into the classroom, as she was a scholastic high school All-American.

Coach Troy on Burns: “Hannah is local and has tremendous upside as she has improved dramatically over the past year. She will cover a need we for us in the future in the individual medley.”

Burns on Florida: “I chose the University of Florida because of the great coaching staff and the school’s academic excellence.”

Abigail Howell (Clermont, Fla.)

During Howell’s time at East Ridge High School, she was a two-time regional champion and three-time district champion on her way to the Florida state meet, where she won the gold medal in 2012, placed third in 2013 and finished runner-up in 2014 all on the one-meter dive. Nationally, Howell has been a member of the YCF Diving National Team for four years and racked up a 12th-place finish in the three-meter synchronized dive and a 7th-place mark on the platform in national competition.

Coach Schultz on Howell: “Abigail just recently finished second at the Florida High School State Championships and fourth at the Junior National Championships in three-meter synchro in August. While Abigail is a springboard diver, her strength is on the platform.”

Howell on Florida: “I have been raised a Gator, as my grandparents, father, uncles and my brother all attended UF. Going to the University of Florida has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl.”

Georgia Marris (New Zealand)

Marris comes to Florida with a slew of accolade in the pool. She is the 13-year and 16-year old age group record-holder in New Zealand in the 100 (58.25) and 200 (1:59.89) freestyle races. She has represented New Zealand in multiple international venues, including the Australian Youth Olympic Festival and Australian Age Group Championships, just to name a few. Marris also earned six medals at the New Zealand Short Course Championships.

Coach Troy on Marris: “Georgia is another solid swimmer from New Zealand. She will provide us with a lot of depth in the butterfly events and she will contribute immediately upon her arrival in Gainesville. Georgia will be a great addition.”

Marris on Florida: “Attending the University of Florida is an amazing opportunity to improve and excel as a swimmer and in my education with great support, coaches, athletes and facilities.”

Tyla Martin (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

According to CollegeSwimming.com, Martin is the No. 27-ranked recruit in the state of Florida. Martin represents Trinidad & Tobago internationally, as she competed for them at the Caribbean Island Swimming Championships this past summer. At the Championships, Martin placed first in the 200 IM (2:25.27) and 100 butterfly (1:04.17) in the 15-17 year-old age group. In addition, Martin joins Thomas Veale as the second swimmer from Pine Crest High School on the Gators.

Coach Troy on Martin: “Tyla was a Florida high school state finalist at Pine Crest and joins us with tremendous upside.”

Mollie Pulte (Troy, Mich.)

According to CollegeSwimming.com, Pulte is the No. 5-ranked recruit in the state of Michigan and is the No. 71 overall swimmer in Class of 2015. In the pool, she is a three-time Michigan high school all-state performer and was a 2013 state champion in the 100 (record holder) and 200 freestyle races. In addition to being the named the MVP of her high school team the previous two years and being the captain of their squad this season, Pulte has competed on the national level as well. Pulte is a USA Short Course & Long Course, USA Junior National and USA Open qualifier in multiple events over the previous three years. In the classroom, she carries a 3.99 grade point average, is a member of National Honor Society and is a two-time USA Scholastic All-American.

Coach Troy on Pulte: “Mollie is a very versatile freestyler who will help us tremendously on our relays. She comes highly-recommended from her club coach, Bill Thompson, who is the father of a former Gator, Matt Thompson.”

Pulte on Florida: “I chose the University of Florida because of its energetic atmosphere. I wanted to be a part of a team that is excited and passionate.”

Katie Rourke (Glenview, Ill.)

Rourke has had a strong 2014, but, prior to that, she was a two-time AAU National Platform Champion. This year, she was named her high school conference’s (MCAC) Diver of the Year. In addition, she was an AAU three-meter synchronized national champion and a U.S. National qualifier. Rourke also earned the Ralph Lynch Youth Appreciation Award for Sportsmanship in 2014.

Coach Schultz on Rourke: “Katie brings a strong diving background with a lot of junior national experience. In addition, her platform experience will make her an SEC competitor as a true freshman.”

Rourke on Florida: “I chose the University of Florida because from the moment I stepped on campus, the atmosphere was incredible. It was a feeling unlike anything I have ever experienced.”

Sydney Sell (Frankfort, Ky.)

According to CollegeSwimming.com, Sell is the No. 2-ranked recruit in the state of Kentucky and is the No. 51 overall swimmer in Class of 2015. In the pool, she is a five-time all-region performer and a regional record-holder in both the 100 backstroke and 100 freestyle. Sell is also a state record holder in the 200 backstroke and was a first-team all-state performer in 2014. Nationally, Sell is the NCSA record-holder in the 100 and 200 backstroke races, which has qualified for her for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. Outside of the pool, she is a two-time scholastic All-American.

Coach Troy on Sell: “Sydney is one of the best up-and-coming backstrokers in the country. She has improved dramatically over the past year and I’m so excited for her to join our women’s team.”

Emma Spilman (Belleair, Fla.)

According to CollegeSwimming.com, Spilman is the No. 17-ranked recruit in the state of Florida in the Class of 2015. In the pool, she finished fourth in the 100 butterfly at the Florida high school state meet in 2012 and 2013. For her efforts, she has also been named All-Pinellas County in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Nationally, Spilman competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200 butterfly and she has been a Junior National and National qualifier. Outside of the water, Spilman was named a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American.

Coach Troy on Spilman: “Emma is an excellent freestyler and butterfly competitor. She will add great depth there for us, as she has a very bright future.”
Spilman on Florida: “I chose the University of Florida because of the rich tradition in its swimming & diving program, the solid academics of the school and the close-knit community of The Gator Nation.”

College Swimming News courtesy of the University of Florida.

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9 years ago

This answers the question of where Sophia Batchelor landed, and what an addition for UF. Those medley relays of Russell, McKnight/Michalak, Batchelor, and Hinds are going to be nasty.

About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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