Unlike many sports, in swimming a vast majority of the domestic athletes sign in the “early signing period” in the fall. They like to be settled in and know where they’re going as early as possible, given the heated competition for limited scholarships, especially in an pre-Olympic year.
That is not to say that classes are set in the fall, however. The spring signing period begins April 16th, and in that period there will be a flood of commitments from international swimmers, especially from places like Europe, Australia, and South America.
Georgia Tech has hit on this international market and earned a verbal commitment from Mats Westergren out of Sweden.
Westergren is a large Swedish swimmer who had a great meet at last week’s Swedish Short Course Junior Nationals (the meet where Sarah Sjostrom broke National Records). That included a Junior National title in the 400 free in 3:52.68, which is his best time, despite not being rested.
His long course bests in the freestyle races are 52.2/1:52.8/4:04.44. Those times convert to about 45.2/1:37.7/4:30 in their yards equivalent races. He also has decent times in the 200 fly (2:05.67) and 200 IM (2:06.73) in short course. He’s a very good short course swimmer because of his size – take into account the 400 short course mentioned above, it converts to about a 4:25 in yards.
After watching him swim in Sweden last week, it’s clear that he’s got huge potential with the right coaching. For example, in the two races of his that I watched, he was beat off the blocks by the entire field, including a competitor that appeared to be about 8 inches shorter than him. With some improvements in matters of technique, he’s got a chance to be a game-changing athlete for the Yellow Jackets. In the least, he should jump immediately onto their top 800 free relay, and it shouldn’t take him too long to begin appearing on the other four as well.