Virginia Tech, who is one of a number of programs that made big statements toward making the ACC more than a two-team league last year, has landed two sizable international signings this week as the official early signing period closed Wednesday.
The first goes to Ned Skinner’s men’s team, who added Jan Switkowski from Poland. He will turn 19 next January, before he comes to Virginia Tech, and is primarily an IM’er and middle-distance freestyler. He ended up with only a single result from last year’s Polish Olympic Trials after being DQ’ed in the 200 IM, but fortunately his best swimming was yet to come that summer. In July, he swam a 2:03.6 in the 200 IM and 4:25.0 in the 400 IM, which is roughly a 1:47 and 3:49 in yards, and rank him among the top 10 in the class in each race.
He has also been 3:57 in the 400 long course freestyle, and overall is about as good in short course as he is in long course. So far this fall, he’s had a few good swims and a few bad swims; in short course meters he was a 2:01 in the 200 IM in October and a 2:09 in November.
A 51.3 in the long course 100 free makes him probably a good free relay contributor at some point in his career with the Hokies. The IM races were one of this team’s biggest strengths last season, with Greg Mahon taking 3rd at ACC’s in the 200; he will be graduating, however, after this season.
Skinner also picked up a very good female signing from the continent in Fiona Donnelly. She’s a Scottish junior who represented the UK at the 2010 and 2011 European Junior Championships as well as the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games where she won bronze medals as part of both Scotland’s 800 free relay and individually in the 400 IM. In Euro Junior swimming, she has a silver medal from the 2010 European Juniors as part of the 800 free relay.
For her efforts, she was honored as one of the official torchbearers in the 2012 Olympic torch relay, swimming through Buxton in her native Derbyshire.
Donnelly has similar specialties as Switkowkski does, and trains alongside Olympic champion Rebecca Adlington at Nova Centurion. She is a 2:03.90 in the 200 free and a 4:16.27 in the 400; plus a 2:17.3 in the 200 IM and 4:52.4 in the 400 IM. She’s extremely versatile though, and made the semi-finals of four events at Britain’s Olympic Trials meet in March: the 200 IM, the 400 IM, the 200 back (2:17.20) and the 200 fly (2:15.39). The 200 back is more likely as a third event collegiately.
If one were going to break up the UNC/UVA stranglehold on the ACC on the women’s side, the IM’s are a good place to start: those two schools accounted for all 8 A-finalists in the 200, and the top 6 in the 400. Donnelly’s converted times put her in position to at least break that up as a freshman.
We’re also hearing reports of a third big name that might be joining this women’s class, but are unable to confirm if she signed a letter this week or not; athletes who didn’t sign this week will have to wait several months before making commitments official.