Lea Gwennap is not even halfway through her junior season of high school, but she’s already decided that she wants to continue her education, and swimming career, at the University of Pittsburgh beginning in the fall of 2017.
While commitments from the class of 2016 continue to roll in, this makes her unofficially the first swimmer from the class of 2017 to announce her verbal commitment.
“I chose the University of Pittsburgh not only for their fantastic swim program but also for their emphasis on academics and their incredible nursing program,” Gwennap said. “During my unofficial visit, the Pitt swimmers were so kind to me and enthusiastic about the culture of excellence that the University of Pittsburgh coaches instill in them and their commitment to their swimmers successes.”
Gwennap’s best times in yards:
- 50 free – 24.15
- 100 free – 51.48
- 200 free – 1:48.96
- 500 free – 4:55.97
- 100 back – 54.33
- 200 back – 1:57.68
- 100 breast – 1:07.57
- 100 fly – 54.78
- 200 fly – 2:00.59
- 200 IM – 2:00.26
- 400 IM – 4:14.96
Gwennap, who swims for Machine Aquatics, will be a crucial replacement for the Panthers who graduate a very impressive senior class at the end of this season including Leticia Lelli, Kaleigh Ritter, and Blair Wegescheide.
While the Panthers were able to address a lot of those holes with their 2016 class, until Gwennap arrives they’ll still be relatively thin in the backstrokes. Wegescheide is the only Panther who was under 57.5 at the Pitt invite this weekend, and while incoming freshman Shannon Hockeppel will help (56.80/2:01.73), Gwennap will give the Panthers an ACC Championship scoring threat immediately upon arrival on campus.
Gwennap is not just a backstroker either – she could contribute for the Panthers in every event, but especially in the butterfly events, middle-distance freestyles, and IM races.
LShe will be a four relay swimmer as a freshman and will give head coach Chuck Knoles some flexibility and a center piece to rebuild his team around. That’sa flexibility that he needs as he’ll graduate school record holders in 10 out of 15 individual swimming school records (including the 50 backstroke on a relay leadoff) before Gwennap arrives.
Gwennap placed 2nd in both the 200 IM and 100 back last season at the Virginia High School League 6A State Championship meet. A year earlier, she was the state champion in the 200 IM as a freshman racing for Chantilly High School. She also won two sectional titles in Christianburg last spring in short course.