Head Coach Rich Murphy is proud to announce that eight future Cougars have signed National Letters of Intent to join the University of Houston swimming & diving program next season. Kayla Epting, Alina Gersib, Julie Gibson, Conor Glenn, Hannah Herbst, Jenny Penneck, Shelby Sparacino and Delia Weber will join the Cougars prior to the 2015 fall semester.
“I’m really excited about the next chapter in Houston swimming that these young ladies represent,” said Murphy. “It was important to me to make in-state swimmers a priority, and I am very excited to have so many swimmers from Texas and specifically, Gulf Swimming, our LSC, in this class. We want to take care of our own.”
Epting is 5-9 and will compete in the 50-yd and 100-yd freestyle. She hails from Keller and is a product of Mid-Cities Arlington Swimming, where she is coached by Shannon Gillespie.
“Kayla is an outstanding talent that will make an impact on our relays right away and will add her competitive spirit to our outstanding sprint group,” said Murphy “Within minutes of Kayla arriving in Houston we could see her fitting in really well with the cohesive group of girls on our team. I am excited to have Kayla join us.”
Gersib competes in the 50-yd and 100-yd freestyle and the 100-yd backstroke. She is 6-2 and comes from Fins Swim Team, where she is coached by Trent Trabona and John Vogel. She is a Houston native.
“Alina stood out in the recruiting process in her maturity and in her personality,” said Murphy. “She has a great relationship with the water, and she has the strong recommendation of her coaches. We are excited to see where she can take her college opportunity.”
Gibson, out of Peyson, Ariz., swims in the 50-yd, 100-yd and 200-yd freestyle and the 100-yd butterfly. She is 5-8 and represents the Scottsdale Aquatic Club, where she is coached by Kevin Zacher.
“Julie is someone who has a track record of pursuing excellence through commitment and sacrifice and I knew that I wanted her attributes to continue to be emphasized on our team,” said Murphy. “Julie is someone that will thrive in the team-driven environment of college swimming and she will be a valued addition.”
Glenn is a Cypress native who swims the 1,650-yd, 1,000-yd, 500-yd and 200-yd freestyle. At 5-6, she is coached by Jack Madden at the Cypress Fairbanks Swim Club.
“Conor is someone that Keith and I felt instantly connected to as we got to know her,” said Murphy. “We really like the strong relationships she has with the athletes she currently trains with and it was pretty easy to see that she would fit really well into our team culture. Conor races hard and wants to do well and we intend to help her grow her swimming.”
Herbst comes from Scottsdale, Ariz., and she trains with Swim Neptune. Her club coach is Debbie Meek, and she stands 5-7. She is a versatile swimmer who competes in the 1,650-yd, 1,000-yd and 500-yd freestyle and the 400-yd and 200-yd individual medleys.
“Hannah brings a versatility and training excellence that will improve our team,” said Murphy. “I love the fact that she has been well-coached and is so eager to improve. Her enthusiasm is contagious.”
Penneck swims in six different events: the 100-yd and 200-yd butterfly, the 100-yd and 200-yd backstroke and the 200-yd and 400-yd individual medleys. She is 5-7 and hails from Highlands Ranch, Colo., and Highlands Ranch Aquatic Club, where she is coached by Eric Fehr.
“Jenny is someone who got on our radar this summer and kept climbing our interest list every step of the process,” said Murphy. “The girls on the team really connected well with her, and we enjoy her very much. We believe she is really on the cusp of some great swims in the next couple of years.”
Sparacino is a Richmond native who swims for First Colony Swim Team and head coach Pete Wright. She is 6-2 and will compete for the Cougars in the 100-yd and 200-yd freestyle and the 100-yd and 200-yd backstroke.
“Shelby was an instant fit within the team and we are really excited to have someone who races well and is improving rapidly join our team,” said Murphy. “The girls on the team loved her from the minute she got on campus.”
Weber also swims for First Colony Swim Team, where she is coached by Bill Sprague. A 5-9 Houston native, she swims in the 1,650-yd, 1,000-yd, 500-yd and 200-yd freestyle and the 200-yd backstroke.
“Delia is an outstanding trainer and competitor, and also an outstanding student,” said Murphy. “We are excited that she will get the academic challenge and athletic challenge at Houston to get her to help her build a career and grow her swimming success.”
According to Murphy, Houston’s incoming class is stocked with well-trained swimmers that have received a solid foundation from their club coaches.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to build on the success and foundation of a lot of great work done by their current coaches who are working with these great athletes on a day-to-day basis,” added Murphy. “Being able to have so many outstanding coaches share their athletes with us and allow us to build this class is awesome.”
Murphy is excited about the versatility and talent of his incoming class of student-athletes.
“The class fills out our roster in terms of event coverage and numbers, and I’m eager to share in the training and competition contributions of these young women,” said Murphy. “I’d like to thank my assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, Keith Dawley, for his outstanding work in helping to build this class.”
UP NEXT FOR THE COUGARS
Houston’s swimmers will host the Pearland Invitational from November 21-23, while the divers will compete at the Texas Invitational in Austin from November 20-22.
College Swimming News courtesy of the University of Houston swimming and diving.