Pitt swimming & diving proudly announces 11 recent commitments as head coach John Hargis and his Panthers’ coaching staff have received official signing paperwork from some of the best prospects and transfers in pools from around the country and abroad.
Two of these signees—UNLV transfer Boris Kulizhnikov and South African freshman Eben Vorster—have already joined the Panthers as mid-year roster additions, while the rest of the group will begin competing for Pitt at the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign.
“This recruiting class is full of fantastic future Pitt student-athletes who are not only great swimmers and divers, but also great people,” Hargis said. “We’re very excited to work with each and every one of these kids as they develop as students and athletes over the next few years while continuing to help raise the bar for the Pitt swimming & diving program.”
Here is a rundown of Pitt’s talented additions, which includes nine swimmers and two divers, along with thoughts on what each will add to the program from Coach Hargis and diving coach Julian Krug:
Stephanie Bartel – Clovis, Calif./Buchanan – BACK/FREE/IM
A USA Swimming Scholastic All-American, Bartel will join the Panthers for the 2017-18 season. Hailing from near the Fresno area, Bartel set the California Central Section division records in winning the 200 IM (2:02.38) and 100 back (55.08) last May, while also setting the 100 free regional record (50.60) in her high school’s 400 free relay at the meet.
Hargis on Bartlel: “Stephanie is very versatile. She is a great IMer and backstroker. She will definitely provide tremendous depth for us in the sprint freestyle as well. She is an already extremely talented swimmer with potential for huge improvement, too.”
Blake Childress – Fishers, Ind./Fishers – DIVE
After developing through the famed Indiana diving system, Childress will become Pitt’s latest talented diving addition from the Hoosier State. An experienced competitive diver already, Childress recently competed at the USA Diving AT&T National Championships in Columbus, which was the latest in a long line of national, regional and statewide events that the Indianapolis area native has competed in.
Krug on Childress: “Blake is a very skilled diver who is capable of some extremely competitive dives. We’re excited to have him join the program next fall and believe he can be an immediate contributor to our team in 2017-18.”
John Fauteux – Waterloo, Ontario/Indian River – BR/FREE
Originally a native of Canada, Fauteux will join the Panthers next fall as a junior college transfer from Indian River State College in Florida after earning NJCAA All-American honors with the prestigious program last spring. Fauteux advanced to the finals of four events—the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 100 breast—as a freshman at the 2016 NJCAA Championships, earning three silver medals and a bronze. He will look to help Indiana River win another NJCAA team title in 2017 before joining the Panthers ahead of the 2017-18 campaign.
Hargis on Fauteux: “John will add depth for us in his two best strokes, the breast and freestyle. He’s going to help us across the board in the relays as well. He’ll be a great asset to our program in the sprints, too. We’re thrilled to add him to this class.”
Lea Gwennap – Fairfax, Va./Chantilly – BACK/FLY/FREE/IM
Ranked the No. 3 recruit from the state of Virginia and a top-100 prospect nationally by CollegeSwimming.com, Gwennap will come to Pitt next fall as a tremendous addition to the program—both in the pool and in the classroom. A 2016 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American, Gwenapp is capable of posting great times in several freestyle events, as well as in the IM, fly and back. She has won the Virginia High School 6A state title in the 200 IM and has also excelled at club meets, including three top-10 finishes at the 2016 NCSA Summer Swimming Championships.
Hargis on Gwennap: “Lea has become one of the top women’s swimming recruits in the country. She can do everything in freestyle from the sprints to the 500. She’s great in both IMs, butterfly and backstroke. She’s going to add depth across the board because she’s such a versatile athlete who will really be a tremendous addition for our Pitt program.”
Kaylee Hollenbach – Hummelstown, Pa./Lower Dauphin – FREE
A top-10 finisher in the 50 free and 100 back at the Pennsylvania 3A State Championships last spring, Hollenbach commits to Pitt as one of the top in-state prospects this year. A 2016 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American, Hollenbach also qualified for states in the 50 free and 100 free as a sophomore and freshman for Lower Dauphin and will look to finish her prep career with a strong showing at this year’s Pennsylvania state meet.
Hargis on Hollenbach: “We are thrilled to add Kaylee and keep her in state. She’s going to be a great sprinter and will add exciting depth for us. We think she has huge potential to be a quality college swimmer and student-athlete here at Pitt.”
Boris Kulizhnikov – Irkutsk, Russia/UNLV – BR/IM
Kulizhnikov has joined the Panthers already as the reigning Western Athletic Conference champion in the 200 breast, which he won in a would-be Pitt school record time of 1:56.20 last February. Kulizhnikov is competing at Pitt now as a junior as he looks to add to his already impressive collegiate résumé with hopes of competing at ACCs and NCAAs this spring. He attended high school at St. Petersburg KOR #1 in the northern Russian city.
Hargis on Kulizhnikov: “Boris is a breaststroker who we have high hopes for. He could have an immediate impact this spring and score at the ACC Championships. From a relay standpoint, he adds the depth that we needed heading into our big meets this spring.”
Noah Marble – Fort Wayne, Ind./Homestead – DIVE
Another diving recruit from the state of Indiana, Marble placed third on 1-meter at the 2016 Indiana state meet last spring. The Fort Wayne native has also competed at numerous regional and national meets over the last few years on 1M and 3M, consistently proving himself as a peer among the nation’s top prep divers.
Krug on Marble: “We’re extremely pleased to add Noah to our diving program. Like our other diving recruit, Blake, he comes from the state of Indiana, where the facilities and coaching for divers is top notch in high school. Noah and Blake have the potential to become great collegiate divers at Pitt.”
Ryan Schonbachler – Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland – FLY/FREE
A local product from Pine-Richland High School just north of Pittsburgh, Schonbachler commits to the Panthers as a freestyle distance swimmer also capable of contributing in the butterfly and possibly other events. Schonbachler qualified for last spring’s PIAA state championships in the 200 and 500 free, while his best times in the 1650 free and other events have made him a standout swimmer at the high school and club levels in his prep career.
Hargis on Schonbachler: “It’s fantastic for us to keep a local kid like Ryan at home. He will provide great versatility for our team in the freestyle distance events while adding depth in the fly and other events. We’re very happy that Ryan chose Pitt, and we’re looking forward to seeing him develop here.”
Kailyn Swantek – Birmingham, Mich./Marian – FREE
A talented freestyle sprinter from the state of Michigan, Swantek is the fourth women’s swimmer to commit to Pitt for the recruiting class of 2017. Swantek recently finished fourth at the Michigan Division 3 State Championships in both the 50 and 100 free, helping lead Marian to a second-place team finish.
Hargis on Swantek: “Kailyn is a great competitor who will add quality depth to our sprint freestyle group. She comes from a winning program out of Michigan, and we’re always happy to add student-athletes to our team who enjoy working hard to help raise the overall standard in our pool every day.”
Blaise Vera – Clinton, Miss./Clinton – FREE
CollegeSwimming.com’s top-ranked 2017 recruit from the state of Mississippi and a top-100 swimmer nationally, Vera is another highly touted commit in Coach Hargis’ first full recruiting class at Pitt. Vera’s credentials include multiple state titles in the 50 free and 100 free along with numerous top finishes at national events such as the Speedo Junior Nationals, the U.S. Open and the United States Olympic Trials.
Hargis on Vera: “Blaise is one of the top men’s sprinters in the country. We’re looking forward to working with him because he has huge, huge potential. He’ll have a big impact in the sprint freestyle events and the relays. He can swim multiple events, he’s a tremendous person as well, and we’re very excited to add him to this recruiting class.”
Eben Vorster – Bloemfontein, South Africa – FLY/FREE/IM
An international addition that has joined the Panthers already as a freshman mid-year enrollee, Vorster has experience swimming at the South African Olympic Trials, FINA World Short Course Championships, the South African National Championships and other prestigious events in his homeland and around the world as a versatile swimmer capable of excelling in the freestyle, butterfly and IM. He was recently named the ACC Swimmer of the Week after his perfect Pitt debut that included individual wins in the 100 fly, 200 fly and 200 IM against rival West Virginia.
Hargis on Vorster: “Eben is a great butterfly and IM swimmer with tremendous international experience who is joining us at the beginning of this spring semester as a true freshman. He will make an immediate impact on our program in many ways and we’re excited to have him.”
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