Texas A&M’s Top 100 Backstroker, Emma Carlton, Announces Transfer to Tennessee

After two seasons and one semester with Texas A&M, Emma Carlton is transferring to the University of Tennessee. She’s currently back home in Washington state, where she’ll remain through the summer to train for the Olympic Trials.

Due to COVID-19, Carlton should have two years of eligibility remaining with Tennessee. It’s not yet clear if the SEC will waive the one-year competition penalty for an intra-conference transfer, though they have recently done so on a case-by-case basis, with football players in particular.

Below is Carlton’s full statement she posted to social media about her transfer decision:

“Life is full of adventures and taking chances ☼ ☼ With that being said, I am honored to announce my commitment to continue my swimming and academic career at the University of Tennessee! Thank you to everyone who has made this dream of mine come true! Thank you to my parents who have supported me in every moment of my swimming and academic career. Thank you to God who has continued to give me strength and courage throughout this process. And thank you to the Tennessee coaching staff and team for allowing me to join your incredible family and legacy! So happy to be a Lady Vol!!🧡

To all my friends at Texas A&M, thank you for being my family the past 2.5 years! The memories and friendships I have made with this incredible group have been a blessing. This team is truly one of a kind. Texas A&M has shaped me into the person I am today and I am forever thankful of my time spent as an Aggie. All I can say is thank you. Thank you to this beautiful team for being there for me through the highs and the lows. Thank you for always making me laugh and smile and cheering each other on when times are tough. Keep lifting each other up, keep laughing at practice and keep loving our amazing sport. I love each and every one of you with all my heart!”


  • 50 free – 22.53 (pre-college 22.58)
  • 100 free – 49.35
  • 200 free – 1:48.79 (pre-college 1:48.91)
  • 50 back – 25.03
  • 100 back – 52.72 (pre-college 53.45)
  • 200 back – 1:57.41 (pre-college 2:07.34)
  • 100 fly – 52.11
  • 200 fly – 2:01.00
  • 200 IM – 2:01.21 (pre-college 2:06.92)

Carlton was recruited primarily as a sprint butterflier, though it’s been in the backstroke events and 200 IM where she’s seen the most growth while at Texas A&M.

Carlton was a B-finalist in the 100 fly at the 2019 SEC Championships and a B-finalist in both the 100 fly and 100 back at the 2020 SEC Championships. She was also an NCAA participant in 2019, swimming on A&M’s 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, helping the latter score at T-14th overall.

Last season, Carlton was the Aggies’ top 50 freestyler, and she ranked #2 on the roster in the 100 back and 100 fly. She was also the top Aggie in the 100 back so far this season (53.41); freshman sprinter Chloe Stepanek (53.68 this season), senior Kara Eisenmann (53.04 last season) and sophomore Grace Wey (53.19 last season) are now the top sprint backstrokers on the A&M roster.

“I love Texas A&M University and always will,” Carlton told SwimSwam via email, adding more color to her social media quote. “This team and the coaches have provided me with the best experience I could ever ask for over the past two and a half years. I have begun the process of redefining my area of study, which Tennessee offers, and also the opportunity to thrive in a program that offers equally amazing opportunities within SEC Swimming and Diving. Coach Matt, Coach Ashley, and Coach Josh have been tremendously encouraging and supportive through this process and I feel that being a part of the Lady Vol Swimming and Diving is the very best fit for me.”

With her best times, Carlton would rank atop Tennessee’s roster this season in the 100 back, and she’ll be one of their top 50 freestylers and 100 butterfliers next season, too. Freshman Olivia Harper (52.90) leads the Lady Vols this season in the 100 back, and junior Trude Rothrock is the best 100 butterflier so far this season for them (51.77).

Knoxville has been a magnet for quality transfers the last year or so, including Cassidy Bayer (Cal), Kristen Stege (East Carolina), Claire Nguyen (Arizona State), Kaitlyn Harty (Texas), Kendall Shields (Texas) and now Carlton.

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4 months ago

Tennessee seems to be attracting quite the talent to Knoxville right now

Reply to  Sigh
2 months ago

Not sure these transfers are difference makers or just athletes looking for something magical?

4 months ago

Welcome to Rocky Top! Let’s go!

Think we’ll see another big SEC xfer soon. 🙂 Tennessee is going to be as deep as any team in the country. HUGE freshman class coming in.

Old Swimmer
4 months ago

With the large classes and the fair amount of transfers to Tennessee, the team will be huge! Tennessee is a wonderful school. My son just graduated from UT last spring and he loved the school and did very well scholastically. Go Vols!

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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