Tennessee women’s head coach Matt Kredich has been seriously stock-piling the freestylers over the last two classes, and that trend is continuing into the fall of 2011 with a verbal commitment from Faith Johnson out of High Point, North Carolina. She swims for the High Point Christian Academy and STAR Aquatics.
“I am very happy to announce that I have made a verbal commitment to Matt Kredich, the Head Womens Swim Coach at the University of Tennessee, to swim with him and Jennifer Woodruff at UT next Fall,” Johnson told us via e-mail.
The newest Volunteer is an extra-ordinary sprinter, and though Collegeswimming.com ranks her as the 24th-best recruit in the class of 2012, by my calculations she is the number-one sprinter of the group. She’s following the trend of some of the nation’s best sprinters graduating high school early (Maddy Schaeffer, for example), as she just turned 17 last week.
Johnson’s yard-best times in the shorter freestyles are 22.44/49.13/1:47.38. That gives her one-way tickets to the sprint freestyle relays and a great chance to earn her way on to the 800.
Her 50 time is the fastest time in the class, and would have left her just a tenth out of the scoring at last year’s NCAA Championships. By the time she steps on campus at Tennessee, she will likely have posted times worthy of NCAA B-Finals. This is going to be important for the Volunteers, given the individual scoring they’ll lose with the graduation of Jennifer Connolly. She’s also gotten off to a great start early this season, which indicates that the National Independent High School Record of 22.30 held by Christina Swindle is probably a goner at some point this year.
Johnson, though very young, has shown that she can step up with the big-girls at crunch time. She is the defending USA Swimming Junior National Champion in the 50 free, and also finaled at the Charlotte Grand Prix, which is one of the best-attended Grand Prix meet. North Carolina separates their public schools from their private schools, but if Johnson were swimming public, she would have likely broken the State Records of one Lauren Perdue, who is now a star at Virginia.
Johnson is also a solid sprint butterflier, with a best of 54.82 in the 100. Her main goal, though, will be to take some of the pressure off of Tennessee sophomore Lindsay Gendron at NCAA’s. Gendron swims everything from the 50 to the mile, and Johnson will help give her a huge boost in the relays.
Expect Kredich and his killer assistant Jennifer Woodruff to continue to snap up freestylers the rest of this recruiting season. What they really need is a breaststroker, with Kirstyn Colinias graduating, but the class is pretty shallow there so that should be the top priority in recruiting for next fall.