The LSU Swimming & Diving teams have had a tumultuous spring season, with lots of ups, and a few downs as well.
But overall, the final note of the spring semester will be one in a positive direction. Not just a positive direction, but an explosively positive direction, as head coach Dave Geyer has signed three international swimmers (two women, one man) to round out a huge recruiting class.
On the women’s side, he’s brought in Danielle Stirrat out of Wales in the United Kingdom and Taryn MacKenzie, from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Stirrat has had an up-and-down year as she’s shifted her focus from freestyles to backstroke, but looking at her best times across-the-board shows her massive potential. In 2010, she earned her way onto the Wales Commonwealth Games team with a 2:01.39 in the 200 free – which translates to a 1:46-low in yards. That would easily be the best 200 free time on next year’s team, now that Amanda Kendall is gone.
She also has bests of 57.35 long course in the 100 free (50.12 in yards) and 4:14.31 in the 400 free (4:42 converted to 500 yards).
As for the backstrokes, where she’s been really good the last year, she has a best of 1:03.3 in the 100 back (54.0 in yards), and a 2:15.2 in the 200 back at the Celtic tri-nations meet two weeks ago (1:56.0 in yards). If those conversions hold true, then she becomes the fastest swimmer at LSU in all four of those events immediately.
MacKenzie will couple up to make a great front-half medley relay of the future, as she’s a breaststroke phenom who was the 2010 South African National Champion in both the 50 and 100 breaststrokes. She most recently finished runner-up to Suzaan van Biljon in the 50 breast at this year’s South African Nationals/Olympic Trials.
MacKenzie’s best in long course for the 100 breaststroke is 1:11.14, which converts to a 1:01-high in yards. She could stand to make the biggest strides in Baton Rouge, and she’ll need to if she wants to hope immediately onto the medley – she’ll have big competition in junior-to-be Torrey Bussey, who finished up a strong season with a 1:00.7 at NCAA’s.
On the men’s side, the Tigers have brought in Alexander Linge out of Sweden. He is a Swedish short-course star who, at 19-years old, is part of the future of men’s swimming in that country. In a 25-meter course, he has bests of 49.52 in the 100 free (44.2 in yards); and 1:49.85 in the 200 free (1:38-mid in yards). He’s also a phenomenal butterflier, with bests of 53.64 (48.0) and 1:59.7 (1:47) in the 100 and 200, respectively.
Linge is the type of swimmer that has excelled at LSU in the past. South African Frank Greeff was only a freshman last year, and coming in with a similar skill set (freestyler/butterflier, better in short course than long course) and ended up third in the SEC in the 200 fly.