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The Virginia Cavaliers appear to be moving in the right direction this season to fight their way back among the top 10 teams in the country, with their latest verbal commitment coming from German breaststroker Laura Simon.
At Germany’s Olympic Trials in May, she finished 3rd in the 100 breaststroke in a long-course personal best of 1:09.55, and 5th in the 200 with a 2:32.43 (she was a 2:30.1 in March). Those best times convert to around a 1:01-low and 2:13-low in yards: encouraging as she’s been better to this point of her career in short course than long course. In 2011, she was 16th in the world in the 50 long course breaststroke with a 31.20.
Last year, she really put some effort into improving the front-end speed on that 100 even more; that was the big difference between her 2011 5th-place finish at the World Junior Championships and her full-second time drop a year later.
The Cavaliers’ top breaststroker is Christine Olson, who was a 1:02.00 and a 2:11.8 last season, and she’s graduating after this year. That will leave the breaststroke group in the hands of quality 2012-2013 freshmen Natalie Martin and Whitney Allen, and now Simon.
She hails from the same town of Mainz in Western Germany that produced USC All-American Dimitri Colupaev. According to an interview she did with the local news service in Mainz, she chose Virginia over Auburn, LSU, and Arizona. Her goal of coming to the United States is the ability to both continue her studies and train in an elite atmosphere: something she says isn’t possible in her native area of Germany.
A Virginia Tech standout of the same name completes her eligibility this season, which will help stave off some confusion.
The Cavaliers have a great class building already. Aside from Simon, they’ve also picked up verbals from Kaitlyn Jones, Leah Smith, Ellen Thomas from the UK, and Madeline Smart.