The Northwestern Wildcats have been on a roll recently with recruiting, and they continue this trend with the addition of Alex Snarski to their impressive Class of 2014 verbal commitments. Snarski, a backstroker out of the CATS Aquatic Team that is stationed in Libertyville, Illinois, is the 2013 NCSA Summer Junior National Champion in the 100 lcm backstroke (57.00) and he also was the runner-up in the 50 meter backstroke (26.90). Additionally, he was the lead-off leg (27.06) on the CATS relay that broke the National Age Group Record in the 200 meter medley relay during the NCSA Summer Juniors meet back in July of this year, as he teamed with Kyle Aerne, Connor Black, and Bogdan Balteanu to go a 1:43.24 in the race. In short course, Snarksi has also been 49.5 and 1:50.4 in the 100 and 200 backstrokes respectively.
The signing of Snarski is a huge boost for the Wildcats, and it appears that they will have a VERY potent backstroke group for a few years to come. With the graduation of the team’s leading returning backstroker, Dominik Cubelic (21.7 50 back, 47.6 100 back) after the 2013-14 season, Head Coach Jarod Schroeder wasted no time in finding raw talent to replace his go-to backstroker and medley lead-off man.
Not only will the Wildcats have freshman Andrew Jovanovic, who is a proven backstroker with bests of 22.0/47.4/1:44.5 in all three short course races, for three more years, they will also get one more year out of current junior Mark Ferguson (48.8 100 SCY Back, 25.5 50 SCM Back, 55.0 100 SCM Back). Ferguson, who hails from Perth, Australia is not the only foreign backstroke import the Wildcats have in their arsenal, as they also have sophomore Grant Halsall (Plymouth Leander Swimming, U.K.) who has been 55.7/2:03.6 in the 100/200 LCM backstrokes and 48.9/1:45.2 in short course yards.
Additionally, Nick Petersen, a Schroeder YMCA-based standout who has been 22.8/48.5 in the 50 and 100 backstrokes respectively, also verbally committed to the Wildcats earlier last month. Throw in the fact that Northwestern freshman Jonathan Lieberman has been a 2:03.94 in the 200 long course backstroke, and you will actually find an elite backstroke squad emerging from a Northwestern team that took 9th at last year’s Big Ten Championships.
The CATS Aquatic Team developed a fantastic talent in Stanford freshman Connor Black, who was the National Public High School Record holder (46.71) in the 100 butterfly before Clay High School’s Caeleb Dressel shattered that record with a 45.89 effort of his own just over a month ago. Black’s success both in short course and in long course (24.08 50 fly, 52.72 100 fly) may lend some insight into the potential of Snarski, as both swimmers trained in the same group at CATS Aquatics.
If Snarski can spring off his fantastic summer season and make a statement during his senior year of high school at Libertyville High School, then he will give the Wildcats the firepower they need to make a big push for second swims in all of the backstroke events at the Big Ten Championships during his freshman year. Of course, and perhaps most importantly, this will also mean that the Wildcats will have no shortage of options when it comes to deciding relays, which can only mean good news for the men out of Evanston as well.