Olympic Great Janet Evans’ Daughter, Sydney Willson, Commits to Princeton for 2025

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Sydney Willson, the daughter of four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans, has pledged her verbal commitment to the application process* at Princeton University for the 2025-26 school year.

Willson trains with Evans’ former coach, Mark Schubert, at The Swim Team in Lake Forest, California. Like her mother, she’s a distance freestyle specialist, having recently placed 16th in the 800-meter free at Junior Nationals this summer with a personal-best 8:50.78 that’s within five seconds of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying time.

A junior at JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, Willson placed 6th in the 500-yard free (4:53.03) at the 2022 CIF State Championships as a freshman before finishing 11th (4:55.39) last season.

“I am very humbled and blessed to announce my verbal commitment to the application process at Princeton University to further my athletic and academic careers! I’d like to thank God, my friends, my teammates, and my family for continuously supporting me and my goals. I’d also like to thank my Coach, Mark Schubert, for helping me get to this point. Finally, I am very grateful to Coach Abby, Coach Juan, and all of the amazing people at Princeton for this incredible opportunity!! GO TIGERS!

Best Times (SCY)

  • 200 free – 1:49.56
  • 500 free – 4:50.27
  • 1650 free – 16:37.04

Willson’s best times would have placed her in the B-final of the 200 free and 500 free at the 2023 Ivy League Championships while also earning an 8th-place finish in the 1650 free.

The Princeton women won the 2023 Ivy League title by 226 points over Harvard, but they lost head coach Bret Lundgaard over the offseason when he took over at the University of Kentucky. This is the Tigers’ first season under new coach Abby Brethauer, who spent the past two seasons as an assistant with the Princeton men.

Willson joins versatile New Mexico native Savannah Skow in the Tigers’ anticipated 2025 recruiting class.

Evans broke out as a 16-year-old with world records in the 400, 800, and 1500 free events before going on to win three individual gold medals at the Seoul 1988 Olympics. There, she set 400 free world record (4:03.85) that lasted for 18 years until France’s Laure Manaudou broke it in 2006 (4:03.03). Earlier that year, Evans set a world record in the 1500 (15:52.10) free that stood until American Kate Ziegler clocked a 15:42.54 in 2007. And in 1989, Evans posted an 800 free world record (8:16.22) that was not reset until Britain’s Rebecca Adlington in 2008 (8:14.10). That’s three world standards that lasted nearly two full decades.

Evans went undefeated in all of her distance freestyle events over a five-year span leading up to the Barcelona 1992 Olympics, where she took silver in the 400 free and gold in the 800 free. She also competed at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, where she carried the Olympic torch in the opening ceremony and handed it off to Muhammad Ali for the lighting. Evans swam for Stanford from 1989-91, but she quit the team to focus on training when the NCAA imposed weekly limits on practice time.

*Note: A verbal commitment between an Ivy League coach and a prospective student-athlete is not an offer of admission, as only the Admission Office has that authority. The coach can only commit his or her support in the admission process. Ivy League Admission Offices do not issue “Likely Letters” before October 1 of the prospective student-athlete’s senior year of high school. The Likely Letter, while issued after an initial read of the student’s application, is not an offer of admission to the university.

If you have a commitment to report, please send an email with a photo (landscape, or horizontal, looks best) and a quote to [email protected].

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7 months ago

Welcome to the Tiger family and best wishes for an amazing college experience! Congrats to Coach Abby and the team.

7 months ago

Welcome to Princeton! Fantastic choice.

congrats on getting another great recruit, Abby!

Jim Tuchler
7 months ago

Fantastic choice – you will rock at PU. Tiger Tiger!

7 months ago

Welcome to the Tigers, Sydney!

7 months ago

Way to go, Coach Abby!!

7 months ago

Yes Sydney!👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 I’m so proud of you! Sip

ACC fan
7 months ago

Pretty impressive times, and ballers again for swimming your iconic Mom’s exact events! Congratulations Sydney!

Happy Slappy
7 months ago

Princeton is on another level. Announcing an application process! Ballers. Congratulations and welcome to NJ!

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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