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Freestyle specialist Sammie Hamilton has committed to swim at the University of Kentucky starting in the fall of 2024 under new head coach Bret Lundgaard.
“I chose the University of Kentucky because of its excellent and knowledgeable coaching staff,” said Hamilton, who picked Kentucky over USC, Alabama, and Ohio State. “Go Cats!”
Hamilton just began her senior year at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Last season, she broke Moore League records in the 200-yard freestyle (1:50.41), 500 free (4:51.61), 200 free relay (1:36.79), and 400 free relay (3:33.62) before going on to place 3rd in the 500 free at the 2023 CIF State Championships (4:52.72) — the best finish by a Bruin at the modern version of that meet. This season, she’s aiming to lead the Wilson girls to their fourth Moore League title in a row and maybe even add a CIF State title to her résumé.
Best Times (SCY)
- 200 free – 1:50.41
- 500 free – 4:51.56
- 1000 free – 10:05.45 (from 2022)
- 1650 free – 16:57.47 (from 2022)
Hamilton’s best 200 free time is only about four seconds away from SEC scoring territory while her best 500 free time is about eight seconds outside of SEC scoring range. She said she plans to swim the 1650 free as her third NCAA event, with her personal-best 16:57.47 from last summer sitting about 45 seconds shy of the B-final based on last season’s SEC Championships.
At the club level, Hamilton competes for Irvine Novaquatics, which was ranked 12th in the country by USA Swimming in 2022-23. This summer, she set LCM personal bests in the 200-meter free (2:04.68) and 400 free (4:23.10) at Sacramento Futures in July.
Hamilton also dabbles in open water swimming as a Junior Nationals qualifier since she was 14 years old. In June, she completed the half-mile Huntington Beach Pier Swim in a women’s record of 8:52, lowering the former mark set by Casey Duckworth in 2012 by a whopping 23 seconds.
Lundgaard was hired in July from Princeton after Lars Jorgensen resigned in June. Former Princeton assistant Robin Boughey followed Lundgaard to Lexington in August as his associate coach. Last season, the Kentucky women placed 3rd at the 2023 SEC Championships with 946 points, behind Tennessee (950.5) and Florida (1,255).
“Everyone on the team is optimistic about learning from these coaches — I’ve never seen it like that,” Hamilton told the562.org. “It’s a great vibe, everyone is really excited. You can tell everyone is happy to be there and that’s something you need when you’re training long hours every day.”
Hamilton joins Avery Frece, Billie Sherratt, Bailey O’Regan, Hayden Penny, and Emma Finlin in the Wildcats’ class of 2024. The Kentucky women do not currently have any California natives on their roster.
The SEC is expected to get even tougher by the time Hamilton arrives on campus in 2024 with Texas joining the conference from the Big 12 that same year.
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