Anna “Katie” Kelsoe of the Memphis Thunder Aquatic Club has verbally committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide. She is a life-long Alabama fan, and her brother Jacob is a sophomore on the team making this transition a natural one for her.
“I have been an Alabama fan my whole life. It’s always been my dream to attend school and swim there,” Kelsoe said of the evolution of her decision. “I didn’t think it was possible until two years ago, when my brother signed to swim for Alabama. I thought, if he can do it, I can do it. My whole mindset changed and I began to work very hard to achieve my dream. I’m super excited to be continuing my swimming career at my favorite college!”
Kelsoe is primarily a backstroker, with yards bests of 55.54 and 2:01.88 in the 100 and 200 yard races. She’s also a 2:05.38 in the 200 IM as a secondary event. She’s the defending Tennessee High School State Champion in the 100 back
The Crimson Tide don’t have an obvious need for a backstroker for their medley relays. Caroline Korst had an impressive freshman season last year, swimming a 53.58 and being the 15th-fastest swimmer in the 100 back in the SEC. She dropped big time in her rookie campaign in college, but after Kristel Vourna’s graduation from the Alabama butterfly group, she might be their best butterflier too.
Overall it’s not a deep backstroke group by SEC standards. Emma Saunders was a 54.81 last year and is second on the team’s depth chart in the 2014-2015 season. It’s not bad either though, as they bring in another talented freshman (Temarie Tomley – 54.93), and they also have Leah Bird, who swam a 1:57.6 in the 200 back last year in the fall.
Individually, Kelsoe’s immediate role will be beefing up the depth in that group and fighting to score at the SEC Championships. She’s consistently dropped time every year of her high school career. If that trend continues for the next two seasons, she should work her way into the top 24 at SEC’s by the end of her freshman year. While the Alabama program is improving in a hurry under its new coaching staff, they’re still at a point where finding 22 swimmers and divers who can contribute at the conference level is valuable, and Kelsoe will at a bare-minimum fit that bill during her career.