There is a whole lot of recruiting competition in the State of California. Last year, the Sunishine State was home to three of the top four women’s programs in the country (Cal, Stanford, and USC). A team could spend a lot of resources trying to recruit within the state borders, and with that competition not come out with a whole lot to show for it.
UCLA, however, made a very smart move and went North to grab a verbal commitment from Katie Kinnear, the top recruit out of the State of Washington, her club coaches confirmed this morning.
With new coach Tom Jager taking over the Washington State program, there’s a chance that the state could get tougher to pull from in the future, but he has to first prove that he can make average sprinters into good sprinters before he gets the chance to make good sprinters into great sprinters (expect the Cougars to go hard after the state’s number two swimmer, Natilee Ruiz). As it stands, though, I think UCLA found themselves a great piece tucked away in the collegiately-isolated Pacific Northwest.
Kinnear is the kind of swimmer that you can start a program with, because her versatility will allow her to go any one of a number of directions in college. She’s an above-average sprinter (23.22/51.30 bests, both done in 2009), and backstroker (55.17/1:59.53), but her real value to this team will be in her butterfly races. She has a best of 53.0 in the 100 fly, and 2:00.34 in the 200 fly (which, one would believe, she can probably improve upon).
UCLA has gotten a bit spoiled over the past few years with a very good, and strong, butterfly group led by Jasmine Jahanshahi. She has now graduated, and the rest of the Bruin butterfly group is aging and moving on as well, so Kinnear can’t get to the campus in Los Angeles fast enough.
It will be interesting to see which event combinations the UCLA coaching staff chooses for her. The 100 fly is probably a sure-bet, but she seems capable of either working on her endurance and adding the 200 fly/200 IM to her set, or else doing a typical sprinter’s lineup of 50 free/100 free/100 fly. Based on the program’s recent history, she might do better leaning towards the longer events, but in terms of program needs, sprinters is atop their priority list.