Futures Champion Lily Cleason Stays In-State, Commits to Michigan

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Backstroke and freestyle specialist Lily Cleason has announced her verbal commitment to continue her academic and athletic career as a University of Michigan Wolverine. She joins their incoming class of 2023.

“I’m excited to announce my verbal commitment to University of Michigan Swim and Dive💙💛 Go Blue!”

Cleason is a current senior at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In her final high school season, she repeated as the MHSAA DII State Champion in the 100 back (53.95), breaking 54.00 for the first time and defending her 2021 title. At the same November meet, she earned more points for Skyline by making finals in the 200 free and placing fourth (1:52.64).

It seems to have almost been destiny that Cleason committed to Michigan; she has been training with Club Wolverine at the Michigan and Eastern Michigan pools since at least 2015. And both of her older siblings, David Cleason and Emma Cleason, swam butterfly and IM for Michigan between 2017 and 2021.

The youngest Cleason is setting her own path as the only backstroker in the family. Most recently, Lily placed fourth in the 100 back at the Austin Sectionals in March with a lifetime best time of 53.72. Last summer, she won the 100 meter back and placed third in the 200 meter back at the Futures meet in Cary, North Carolina. Both swims were lifetime best times (1:02.25 / 2:14.80). Cleason is now a Winter U.S. Open qualifier in the 100 back and has a Summer Juniors cut in the 200 back.

Top SCY times:

  • 200 free – 1:50.77 
  • 100 back – 53.72*
  • 200 back – 1:57.39 

*Cleason reportedly clocked a 53.00 100 yard back at an unobserved high school meet in October while wearing a tech suit.

The high school senior already has Big Ten Conference finalist potential in two events; Her lifetime best 100 back and 200 back times would have earned her spots in the ‘C’ finals this season, and placed her second and third, respectively.

Cleason will make a strong addition to Michigan’s backstroke training group which is currently led by junior Noelle Kaufmann who earned 10th in the 100 back and 11th in the 200 back at the 2023 Big Ten Championships. She will have no shortage of training partners including her fellow class of 2023 recruit Lexi Greenhawt who is a Club Wolverine alumni and has a best 100 back time of 52.52. Another recruit, Taylor Morris, owns a 100 back time of 53.58, and her 200 free time is a 1:49.70.

Cleason is joining a deep 200 freestyle training group led by first years Katie Crom (who placed 5th at this season’s Big Tens) and Riley Francis (who placed 10th.) The Wolverines made up half of the ‘B’ final this season. There are also impressive 200 freestylers coming in in the recruit class of 2023: Sophia Guo 200 free (with a best time of 1:49.95) and Madison Smith 200 free (1:48.91). Distance, IM, and butterfly specialist Hannah Bellard also owns a best 200 free time of 1:46.48.

Michigan women are coming off a third-place finish at the 2023 Big Ten Conference Championships under head coach Mike Bottom. Cleason also joins Stephanie Balduccini, Mattea Sokolow, Anna Boemer, in the Wolverines’ class of 2023 verbal commitments.

If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [email protected].

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11 months ago

Delusional IU fanboy right here

Burrito Burrito Burrito ENCHILADA
11 months ago

She actually went 53.00 in the 100 back at a duel meet. Would’ve placed her 10th at Bigs this year just missing the A final. Shes going to be head and shoulders better then her siblings.

Last edited 11 months ago by Burrito Burrito Burrito ENCHILADA
11 months ago

She actually has a 100 best time of 53.00 in the 100 back set at a dual meet in October 2022. Congratulations.

11 months ago

Go Blue!

About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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