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The Northwestern Wildcats have kicked off the fall recruiting season with their first verbal commitment. Lacey Locke from Indiana’s famed program at Carmel High has agreed to join the program in Evanston, Illinois in the fall of 2013, making her one of the first swimmers in the country to stamp her verbal appeal. Athletes won’t be able to officially sign their letters-of-intent until November 14th.
Locke is rated by CollegeSwimming.com as the top-ranked recruit out of the state of Indiana, and among the top-20 in the country.
The Wildcats still have a lot of work to do if they’re hoping to improve upon their 7th-place finish at Big Ten’s last year, but Locke’s signing will give them something to look forward to for the season-after-next. She already has bests of 54.2 in the 100 back and 1:57.6 in the 200 back. Those will put a huge charge into what was Northwestern’s weakest stroke last season (nobody was better than 56/2:01 during the 2011-2012 season).
They’ve already got some help on the way in those backstrokes in freshman Shelly Patton, who was twice the State runner-up in Colorado in the 100 back, but Locke is even better. For all of the success that the men’s backstrokers have had at Northwestern (see Matt Grevers), the separately-administered women’s program hasn’t really had a standout backstroker since three-time Big Ten champion Tashy Bohm c. 2001.
Locke has Olympic Trials qualifying times in both of those backstroke races in long course, but she also brings some serious IM potential as well. She’s got a yards best of 2:00.7 in the 200 IM, which was done at the Indiana State Championship meet as a sophomore.
Locke is one of the leaders of a Carmel High School team that has won 26-straight Indiana State Championships, a recognition by her coaches and peers that is not to be taken likely. Though her junior season wasn’t quite as good as the one before (either in yards or meters), she still comes in with some big-meet credentials to her credit. That includes placing as the Junior National runner-up in the 100 back in 2011, and winning the 200 back at the SwimVitational in Omaha this summer. Winning a race in the Olympic Trials pool: not something a lot of swimmers can claim.
Perhaps one of Northwestern’s biggest assets, aside from a sterling academic reputation, is the proximity to one of the country’s major city’s (Chicago): something most college programs cannot offer. Locke cited that as one of the factors in her decision to commit to Northwestern.
“I chose Northwestern because of the untouchable mix of athletics and academics, near a lively city that I have always loved,” Locke said. “Jimmy (Tierney) is an outstanding coach and person with a super star vision for the program. I am thrilled with the opportunity and look forward to being a part of such an enthusiastic and fabulous program.”
Locke ended with an emphatic “GO PURPLE! GO CATS!” just to make sure everyone knew that though non-binding, she was full-bore behind Northwestern.