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Rising high school seniors Abbie Alvarez and Mary Catherine Jurica have verbally committed to the University of Houston as a member of the high school class of 2021.
Neither swimmer will have to travel very far: Alvarez lives in Katy, Texas, where she attends Taylor High School, which is less than 30 miles from campus. Jurica is a former member of COOG Aquatics, based out of the University of Houston campus, and now trains with the Houston Swim Club.
Both swimmers are USA Swimming Scholastic All-AMericans.
As a junior last season, Alvarez was the Texas Class 6A Region 5 champion in the 200 IM, swimming 2:03.00. She also finished 2nd in the 100 breaststroke at that meet in 1:03.96.
At the Texas State Championship meet, she won the B finals in both the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, placing 9th in both events. She also swam on the team’s runner-up 200 medley relay (along with Jr. National Teamer and Texas commit Emma Sticklen), and also anchored the team’s 4th-place 400 free relay.
That contributed to an 8th-place team finish for Taylor High School.
Alvarez has electric versatility – breaststroke might not even be her best stroke, as she’s also a 55-second 100 butterflier.
Alvarez’s Best Times in Yards:
- 100 free – 52.44
- 200 free – 1:52.29
- 100 fly – 55.41
- 200 fly – 2:02.09
- 100 breast – 1:03.66
- 200 breast – 2:18.24
- 200 IM – 2:03.00
Jurica didn’t swim the high school season, but last summer she was the Southern Zone Senior Champion in the 800 meter free.
Primarily a distance swimmer, Jurica already has best times in the 200 and 1650 freestylers that would have scored top 8 points for the Cougars at last season’s AAC conference championship meet.
She also has the range to develop into a potential 400 free relay swimmer for Houston down the line – her best time in the 200 free is already fast enough to have made the school’s 800 free relay last season.
Jurica’s Best Times in Yards:
- 100 free – 50.92
- 200 free – 1:48.87
- 500 free – 4:51.98
- 1000 free – 10:02.46
- 1650 free – 16:44.62
- 100 breast – 1:05.03
- 200 breast – 2:22.17
Earlier this season, Houston won its 4th-consecutive AAC Championships. The 2019-2020 season, though truncated by the oncoming coronavirus pandemic, was a major step forward for the program in their 5th season under head coach Ryan Wochomurka. The program had 5 swimmers qualify for the NCAA Championships in individual events, which matched the number of qualifiers by their renowned cross-state colleagues at the University of Texas.
Houston is a former powerhouse in swimming and especially diving, having placed as high as 10th at the 1984 NCAA Championship meet, but for the modern incarnation of the team, the 5 qualifiers was a high water mark.
Alvarez and Jurica join a class of 2021 that also includes:
- another Houston-area native Keely Rollinson (56.6 butterflier/51.5 freestyler),
- plus Alyssa Bloser from Little Rock (23.5/50.8 freestyler),
- and Indiana sprinter Emma Wright (23.2/49.9 freestyler).
5 domestic recruits, including 3 from Houston, serve as the foundation of a reshaping of the Cougars’ roster. Last year’s roster had only 5 Houston-area swimmers and 7 Texans among 30 on the roster.
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