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One of the top swimmers in Texas last year, Abby Naden of Austin, Texas has announced her decision to compete in the Big-12 next fall, committing to the University of Kansas. Naden is currently finishing her senior year at Vandegrift High School.
“I am beyond thrilled to announce my verbal commitment to continue my academic & athletic careers at the University of Kansas! I want to thank all of my coaches, teachers, & teammates for helping me achieve this goal of swimming in college! I also want to thank my family for always being there for me! Finally, I want to thank Coach Jen and Coach Clarke for helping me realize that Lawrence felt like home. I can’t wait to be a Jayhawk! ROCK CHALK!!!💙❤️ #rcjh #KUswim #committedSW”
Last spring, Naden was a finalist in both the 100 and 200 freestyles at the 2022 Texas High School 6A Swimming and Diving State Championships. Her top finish came in the 100 free, where she took 5th in a time of 51.53. She was slightly faster during prelims of the event, touching in a lifetime best of 51.36. She also added a 12th-place finish in the 200 free (1:51.65).
At the Sectionals meet in Austin this summer, she picked up a trio of lifetime bests in the long course pool as she qualified for multiple finals across the weekend. Earning second swims in both, Naden posted lifetime best of 27.20 and 58.22 in the 50 and 100 freestyles, respectively. Her top finish came in the 100 back, where she touched 19th in a time of 1:06.58.
Top SCY Times
- 50 free – 24.05
- 100 free – 51.36
- 200 free – 1:51.20
- 100 back – 58.67
- 200 back – 2:06.76
Naden will bring strong depth to the Jayhawks in the sprint freestyle and backstroke events when she arrives on campus next fall. Last season her biggest contribution to the team would have come in the 100 free, where her lifetime best would have ranked her as the 5th fastest member of the team.
When she arrives on campus next fall, Naden will have one year of overlap with the Jayhawk’s top returning freestyle from last season, Claudia Dougan. Dougan was a finalist at the Big-12 Championships in the 50, 100, and 200 freestyles, with her top finish being 4th in the 200 free.
Last season, Kansas graduated breaststroke ace Kate Stewart, one of the Jayhawk’s top performers in recent years. Stewart was a three-time Big-12 champion in the breaststroke events and finished her collegiate career by qualifying for the 2022 NCAA Championships. She left the program as the school record holder in five events.
Joining Naden in the class of 2027 will be Bradie Ward, Gracyn O’Mara, Ryan Johnston, and Halle McCullough. Ward and Naden will have some overlap in events, as Ward was the 200 free runner-up at the 2022 Kansas 6A Swimming and Diving State Championships last spring. Ward, who is staying in her hometown of Lawrence, Kansas for her college career, currently boasts lifetime bests of 24.12/52.25/1:53.03 in the 50/100/200.
That class will compete most of their careers in a Big 12 Conference that will look very different than the one today. The dominant team, Texas, will move to the SEC (either in 2024 or 2025, pending negotiations), while swimming & diving teams from Cincinnati, Houston, and BYU will join the conference.
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