Kaii Winkler, The #3 Recruit In The Class Of 2024, Commits To NC State

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Kaii Winkler of Eagle Aquatics, the #3 ranked recruit in the high school class of 2024 per SwimSwam’s way-too-early recruit rankings, announced his commitment to NC State via Instagram on Sunday night. He joins a recruiting class that already includes Daniel Diehl, who is SwimSwam’s #1 overall recruit in the class of 2024.

Winkler holds the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group records in the 100 free for both yards and meters. He is also the best sprint freestyler in his class.

I am happy to announce my verbal commitment to North Carolina State University! Thank you to my family, friends, and coaches for the continued support throughout this process. I could not have gotten to where I am without them! GO WOLFPACK🐺

Last month at the FGC Senior Championships, the 16-year-old Winkler became the first swimmer in the U.S. 15-16 age group to ever get under the 42-second barrier in the 100-yard freestyle, going a 41.96. In that same meet, he also swam best times of 1:33.28 in the 200 free and 19.44 in the 50 free to put himself at #2 and #3 all-time in the 15-16 age group respectively the events.

In addition to his generational sprint freestyle talent, Winkler also has a 46.94 100 fly, which is a formidable time for a high schooler and could hint at a potential third event for him when he enters the NCAA.

At the TYR Pro Swim Series in Fort Lauderdale this March, Winkler swam a 48.81 100-meter free to become the first U.S. 15-16 year old to get under the 49-second barrier in the event, which puts him contention to qualify for major international meets in the near future.

Winkler’s Best Times (Short Course Yards):

  • 50 free: 19.44 (18.98 split)
  • 100 free: 41.96
  • 200 free: 1:33.28
  • 500 free: 4:23.85
  • 100 back: 47.92
  • 100 fly: 46.94

When Winkler arrives at NC State in the fall of 2024, he will join one of the deepest sprint crews in the nation. In the 2022-23 NCAA season, the Wolfpack had five different men (Nyls Korstanje, Noah Henderson, David Curtiss, Aiden Hayes, and Drew Salls) sub-19.2 in the 50 free and six different men sub-45 in the 100 fly  (Hayes, Luke Miller, Korstanje, Stokowski, Arsenio Bustos, and Henderson). Curtiss, Hayes, Bustos, and Salls will all have at least one year of eligibility left by the time Winkler gets on campus, giving him a wide array of training partners.

In the 100 free and 200 free, Winkler will instantly become one of the best on his team. During the 2022-23 season, Miller (41.87) was the only swimmer faster than Winkler in the 100 free, and Miller (1:31.55) and Bartosz Piszczorowicz (1:32.47) were the only two faster than him in the 200 free.

NC State Depth Chart, 50 Free (2022-23 Season):

  1. Nyls Korstanje, 18.74
  2. Noah Henderson, 18.88
  3. David Curtiss, 18.93
  4. Aiden Hayes, 19.09
  5. Drew Salls, 19.14

NC State Depth Chart, 100 fly (2022-23 Season):

  1. Aiden Hayes, 44.35
  2. Luke Miller, 44.50
  3. Nyls Kostanje, 44.56
  4. Kacper Stokowski, 44.65
  5. Arsenio Bustos, 44.89
  6. Noah Henderson, 45.38

NC State has brought their ‘A’ game for recruiting in the class of 2024, as in addition to Winkler and Diehl, they also earned commitments from #11-ranked Nolan Dunkel and #12-ranked Matt Marstiener. On the women’s side, the Wolfpack also got a commitment from #6-ranked Erika Pelaez, who is Winkler’s club teammate at Eagle Aquatics.

In February 2023, Winkler’s older brother Finn Winkler recently committed swim for the University of Texas starting in the fall of 2023.

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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1 year ago

So I guess having the Top Recruiting classes are great and all, but how many 19.0/42.0/1:30 guys does one team need? Having 25 plus swimmers that could potentially qualify for NCAAs sounds like a bad problem to have. From what I have seen everything looks fine on the outside but you can not tell me that there isn’t any hard feelings when events and relays are picked. Just an observation.

Reply to  Swimmy
1 year ago

Couldn’t it also foster healthy competition? I guess it really comes down to the coach and the team culture.

Reply to  Swimmy
1 year ago

I think it’s why we saw a slight downturn from Texas this year. Swimming is so hard and when you put in that work and the end of your season is at Big 12s vs 2 other teams that can’t actually compete, or the American Short Course Championship, that’s not a real celebration of that work. If it happens to the same guys a couple years in a row it’s hard for that to not lead to loss of buy in or bitterness. Think NC State would kill for the run they had for the few years prior too that so they’re just going to go for it and deal with any potential negative consequences later.

Reply to  oxyswim
1 year ago

I’ve thought this for a long time. Everyone affiliated with elite college swimming in the country kept repeating to me “no, the kids would 100% rather be left off the roster on an NCAA team than swim somewhere else.” That’s people from in the Texas sphere, people from Texas’ rivals…they all keep saying the same thing.

Maybe that was true for a long time, but I think we’re going to see that become less and less true as the sport evolves.

1 year ago

This NC class is way too good. I was a little concerned he would choose Texas to join in Finn, as there is no sprinting training partner over there. No doubt he made the right choice!
Kaii is one of the most interesting recruits of this class, as he is still progressing and the way he excelled up to now is not relying on power, but on amazing balance and technique. His freestyle video clips have been textbook stroke to my boy swimmers.
Really curious at how he will develop in next phase! Best wishes to him!

captain undeez
1 year ago

lol all these top 25 recruits committing to NCST just to finish no better than 3rd at NCAAs. Cal, Texas and ASU still have the top 3 spots locked up😂

Reply to  captain undeez
1 year ago

Explain to me like I’m 10 how Texas has a top 3 finish locked up. If your best sprinters are freshman that’s rarely a formula for success. Mogdin, Germonprez, and Taivassalo all have to hit in a huge way if Corbeau isn’t taking a 5th year and I saw someone say previously that his dad said he wasn’t.

Reply to  oxyswim
1 year ago

I’m not disagreeing but at the same time it’s Texas and they’ve finished ahead of NC State every single year in the last half century.

Texas had no scorers in the 50 free, 100 back, 1 fly, and no true sprinters (Krueger was horribly off this year). NC State has no true holes (other than 4 IM). Laying an egg in 100/200 free didn’t help either

Texas finds a way to win and maximize their roster, NC State does not. It’s hard to see Modglin and Germonprez as anything other than an immediate impact

Reply to  Andrew
1 year ago

Texas finds a way to win via diving. Texas hasn’t won a NCAA title on swimming points since 2017

Reply to  Swimmer.
1 year ago

Texas owns NC State. NC State is a fraud blue chip program and even if you take away diving points, Texas trumps NC State EVERY year.

1 year ago

Mr. Braden Holloway: Sells ice to Eskimos, sand to Arabs, and the Wolfpack to Top Recruits. He’s a magician!

Reply to  Jealous
1 year ago

Top recruits already have all the Wolfpack they could ever need!

Reply to  Jealous
1 year ago

Arabs are actually big importers of sand.

Faulty Touch Pad
1 year ago

The real winner here is Finn Winkler snagging a Texas roster spot while his brother pulls a sneaky on the Longhorns. Well played, Winklers, well played.

Reply to  Faulty Touch Pad
1 year ago

Nah that’s insane I’d that’s why he commited late 💀

K Chilly
1 year ago

It’s sad that this class won’t line up with current stars such as Stokowski and Gallant but it means there is a lot to look forward to! With the level of consistent recruiting it’s looking like NC State could rise to the top and stay there. Despite 5th place this year the gap between the top 6 teams was extremely small and any even incrementally better recruiting classes could vault a team up a few places. I am a fan of the current state of swimming where the NCAA title is no longer just a battle between Cal and Texas.

tea rex
1 year ago

Overflowing with talent, NC State will have to deal with the burden of high expectations. Anything short of a national championship in the next few years will feel like an underperformance.
In HS classes of ’21 to ’24, 9 swimmers have had the top time in their class for either 50, 100, or 200 free. 5 of them went to NC State – that doesn’t even include Hayes or Diehl or Heck or Bustos (top in their classes in fly/bk/br/IM). Unless another school recruits the entire Euro Juniors medal stand, hard to see how NC State DOESN’T clean up the relays.

Last edited 1 year ago by tea rex
1 year ago

Looks like Texas plan to sweeten the pot didn’t work

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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