National Junior Team swimmer James Jones from the Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP) has verbally committed to the Michigan Wolverines, officially opening the recruiting run on July 1st: the day where Division I coaches are allowed open contact to prospective high school seniors.
“The University of Michigan has a unique combination of top-tier academics, a brilliant coaching staff and team culture,” Jones said of his future home. “I know that, at the University of Michigan, I will have the best possible support in maturing as an athlete, as a student, and as a man.”
The 6’1″ Jones is a prized recruit in the class of 2016; unlike the prior to recruiting classes, which were littered with top sprinters, only two swimmers in this year’s group have been under 20 seconds in the 50 freestyle so far: Jones and California Albert Gwo (uncommitted).
Jones’ 19.95 ranks him just behind Gwo, but at an overall level, Jones takes the title for the class’ top American sprinter. His best times in yards:
- 50 free – 19.95
- 100 free – 43.97
- 200 free – 1:39.48
- 100 fly – 48.98
While Michigan has become a very diversified program thanks to what Dr. Josh White has done with the distance group, the program’s head coach, Mike Bottom, still leads the way as a sprint guru.
While the Wolverines graduate their best Bruno Ortiz, who was 19.09 last year, they still have the fastest returning 50 freestyler in the Big Ten in Paul Powers. As just a freshman last season, the powerful Powers swam a 19.21 and wound up 8th at the NCAA Championships.
Michigan also returns Vinny Tafuto to the sprint group (19.53) – he’ll be a senior when Jones arrives – but will have to spend the 2015-2016 season developing another sprinter. They graduated half of their 200 free relay from last season, and there’s not an obvious heir to replace them, though Bottom has a knack for finding hidden sprint talents (as he did with the aforementioned Ortiz brothers).
Michigan was the only program with two A-finalists in the 50 free at last year’s NCAA Championship meet.
Jones is a member of the USA Swimming Junior National Team, and is the defending NCSA Junior National Champion in the 50 yard freestyle. That earned him a spot on the 51-swimmer NCSA Junior National Team that traveled to compete at the Irish National Championships. He placed 2nd in that meet in the 50 free in long course (23.23), but has been as fast as 22.81 in the 50 meter pool – his lone Olympic Trials cut to date.
He is also the two-time defending champion in the 50 and 100 yard freestyles at the Virginia High School League 6A (big school) state championship meet, where he represents Robinson Secondary School.