The Ohio State Buckeyes made a big statement this weekend by getting a verbal commitment from local swimmer Thomas Trace of the Upper Arlington Swim Club and Upper Arlington High School, just a few miles outside of Columbus.
Conversely, the last few years have seen a majority of the state’s top talent wind up outside of its borders.
This year started out similarly, with guys like Brock Turner going to Stanford; Henrik Pohlmann going to Virginia; and Jonathan Rutter committing to Yale.
The Buckeyes, however, have halted that trend with the addition of Trace. He was the 2013 state runner-up in the 50 free, and also placed 4th last year in the 100 back. In yards, off of flat-starts, he has been 20.9/47.1 in the 50 and 100 frees, plus 49.99/1:49.92 in the 100 and 200 yard backstrokes.
Based on the comparative differences between his high school state meet in mid-February, and his club taper meet in early March, he likely is easily capable of better times in that 100 free and the 200 back on better timing.
The Buckeyes’ backstroke group is becoming one of the program’s strengths. They had three of the top-14 ranked 100 backstrokers in the Big Ten last year, and were even better in the 200 with two in the top eight.
The group looks like it will continue to climb this year with freshman Matt McHugh leading the way in the 100, having already been 48.7 early in his collegiate career, and it’s also a group that will stay largely in-tact through the 2014-2015 season.
This means that Trace has a year to really develop before any sort of significant pressure is put upon him in the backstrokes, and in the meantime work on his sprint freestyles where the Buckeyes have also had a recent run of success.
Trace also has a twin sister, Betsy, who’s a good sprinter, and his former teammate Joey Long is currently a freshman at Ohio State.