In a shocking move, Swedish swimmer Emma Svensson has signed a National Letter of Intent to swim collegiately at lowly Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall. Svensson, who is the Swedish National Record holder in the 50 backstroke, is needless-to-say the biggest recruit in the history of the program, or possibly the entire athletics department.
Svensson has speed to burn, and is already a NCAA-qualifying level of sprinter. Her best long course times, converted to yards are:
- 25.7 50 free (23.3 converted)
- 56.7 100 free (49.4 converted)
- 29.0 50 back (24.7 converted)
- 1:04.4 100 back (54.9 converted)
That 50 backstroke time, if she can match the conversion factor in a yards pool, would have been an upgrade for 10 out of the 16 NCAA Finalist medley relays.
And yet she’s on her way to Fort Myers, Florida, which is home to only roughly 10,000 undergrads (tiny by Florida standards) and is only in its infancy as a University (accepting it’s first students in 1991). Why did she choose FGCU, which only this spring completed it’s transition to full Division-1 athletic status, instead of the likes of Georgia, Cal, and Florida, which is where most of the other top 10 recruits are going?
Perhaps she saw the potential in a program that was ranked 32nd in the country in 2011 and has won the last three Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association titles: the latest of which was taken by nearly 300 points over a not-too-shabby Davidson program. This three-year winning streak is even more impressive considering the program has only existed for four seasons. Coach Neal Studd has really got things turning in talent-rich South Florida.
At the rate they’re going, Svensson might not be the last top-10 recruit the program pulls in. The City of Fort Myers is in final negotiations with the National Swim Center Corporation on a $25 million dollar project to convert the former Red Sox spring training park into a 5-pool complex that could attract even more elite swimmers to the area.
Don’t be surprised if you see the Eagles start to make small ripples at next year’s National Championships. The landing of a recruit like Svensson shows that the smallest of ripples can eventually turn into a huge cannonball.