Bray, Swimming & Diving Add Five In Spring Signing Period
Signees Bring Incoming Class To Nine for 2015-2016
DENTON - Following a season that included two all-conference finishes, NCAA B cuts in five events and a fifth-place mark at the conference championships, North Texas swimming and diving head coach Brendon Bray has received commitments from five in the spring signing period.
The signees will join a group of 22 returning letterwinners from the 2014-15 season. Bray's latest additions are the continuation of an effort to replace a senior class that included Krista Rossum and Mona Groteguth, unarguably two of the top swimmers in North Texas history. Additionally, the spring group will be joined next fall by the four signees from the NLI early period in November.
The five newcomers are: Natalia Kwiatkowska (Burlington, Ontario), Katie Moore (Phoenix, AZ), Averie Ruiz (Lubbock, TX), Brittany Thurstin (Bryan, TX) and Sara Whelan (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia).
Natalia Kwiatkowska was the latest addition to the spring signing class, and she has had a number of top swims over the last few months. Natalia set club records in the 50-meter backstroke and 200 IM at the Western Ontario Swim Association Championships in February. The next month, she would go on to set another club record, this time in the 400 IM, while finishing in the top-3 in the 200 backstroke, 100 backstroke and 400 IM at the 2015 Provincial Age Group Championships. Kwiatkowska also swam at the Canadian Time Trials, the same meet that Mean Green freestyler Isabelle Morris competed in a month ago.
Top Times: 1:02.00 (100 back SCM), 2:13.10 (200 back SCM), 2:03.45 (200 free SCM)
Bray on Kwiatkowska: "We learned about Natalia a little late in the recruiting period but we were impressed with what we think she can bring to the team. Losing Mona Groteguth is going to leave a big hole for us in the backstroke events, but Natalia is more than capable of stepping in and being a high level backstroke competitor. On paper she probably is best at the 200 backstroke, but after seeing her swim in Canada, she really had an awesome 50 backstroke at the world championship trials and she could also help us in the 200 Free and 400 IM. She is a very respectful, hard-working young lady and I think she has a great distance background to lay a foundation of training from her club. I expect to see her really make some huge drops after focusing more on speed and underwater kicking with us."
Katie Moore was a force for the Boulder Creek High swim team throughout her career. She qualified for the Northwest Arizona Regional meet in three of her four years, eventually going on to take first with record-breaking swims in the 200 and 500 freestyle races during her senior year. She would go on to final in the 200 free while finishing in the top-8 at the 2014 Arizona State Championships this season. She leaves her alma mater with team records in four events: the 200 free, 500 free, 200 free relay and 400 free relay. Moore comes from a family of swimmers as brothers Kevin and Brian have each swam for Eastern Michigan University.
Top Times: 52.69 (100 free), 1:52.60 (200 free), 5:01.57 (500 free), 10:36.29 (1000 free)
Bray on Katie: "Katie Moore is really going to be a fun athlete to coach. Her coach at Phoenix Swim Club, Garrett McCaffrey, is one of the coaches on the forefront of swim science in his implementation of race pace swim training and Katie saw some big gains because of what she has been doing in her time there. They have a good thing going over there in Phoenix and I can't be more happy to bring Katie onto our team to see her blossom with us. She comes from a great family, which seems to be a theme with this class. She is a middle distance freestyler and I think she is going to help make up a great middle distance group next season and help us in really any freestyle event, especially the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle."
Averie Ruiz is the only diver to sign with the Mean Green to this point in the season. She will join a core group of divers that loses only one senior to graduation. The 2013 TISCA All-State selection was a force during her time at Coronado High, winning district and placing second at regionals before eventually placing ninth at the 2014 UIL 6A State Championships. Additionally, the diver was a qualifier for the AAU Nationals. Ruiz is another member of the incoming class who has strong family ties to her sport; Averie's siblings, Adam and Audrey, dove for Texas A&M and New Mexico State, respectively.
Top Scores: 464.6 (1-meter), 234.8 (3-meter)
Bray on Averie: "We always make a big push to keep top Texas athletes here with us and we really had a huge in-state pickup with the signing of Averie Ruiz. Averie will come in and instantly challenge to be one of our best divers and already has a great relationship with one of our current divers after competing on the same club team. Coach Pyrch thinks she has great potential and that she will help our already strong core of divers perform even better than last year. Averie is a really wonderful young lady and we can't wait to have her with us at UNT next year."
Brittany Thurstin is one of only two Texas natives in the incoming spring class. The Bryan High product was a consistent force for the Vikings during her four years in the pool. She was a two-time district champion in the 50 freestyle and a four-time regional finalist during her four seasons in high school, her top mark coming with a second-place finish during her junior year. Thurstin also took fourth in the 50 freestyle at the 2014 South Zone TISCA Championships in December.
Top Times: 24.00 (50 free)
Bray on Thurstin: "Brittany will be joining us from just down the road in the College Station/Bryan area. A lot of her best swims have come at the high school level and she will come in and give us instant depth that we have needed in our sprint freestyle events. Like Averie, Brittany is from Texas and we love to have swimmers and divers who grew up in the state join our team so it is special that we were able to keep her here. I think if Brittany can keep up a high work ethic and really commit to being a great sprinter, the sky is the limit for her."
Sara Whelan has had her fair share of competition at the national level while swimming in Canada. The all-around freestyler has most recently competed at the 2015 Speedo Western Canadian Open and joined fellow signee Natalia Kwiatkowska at the 2015 Canadian Swimming Trials. Whelan was a part of a 200 medley relay team that won its category and set a provincial record at the B.C. High School Provincial Swim Championships this season. The team also earned a bronze medal in the 400 freestyle relay.
Top Times: 58.10 (100 free SCM), 2:01.82 (200 free SCM), 4:17.65 (400 free SCM), 8:52.19 (800 free SCM)
Bray on Sara: "Sara comes from one of Canada's historically great swim clubs with the Canadian Dolphin Club in Vancouver. I really think she is a diamond in the rough and she had a breakthrough season in her short course meters this past November. I think that will translate very well into the yards swimming that we compete in for NCAA meets. She views herself as a distance swimmer and she will definitely help us in the long distance races, but I think she also will develop to a high level in the 200 free and help us from time to time in the IM. She has an awesome family and incredible work ethic that she learned from her club program, and we can't wait to have her join our team next season."
2015-16 Incoming Class
• Claudia Kitching - Skema Business School - Euralille, France - 2:34.19 (200 BR LCM), 1:12.41 (100 BR LCM)
• Natalia Kwiatkowska - Robert Bateman HS - Burlington, Ontario - 1:02.00 (100 BK SCM), 2:13.10 (200 BK SCM), 2:03.45 (200 FR SCM)
• Katie Moore - Boulder Creek HS - Phoenix, AZ - 52.69 (100 FR), 1:52.60 (200 FR), 5:01.57 (500 FR), 10:36.29 (1000 FR)
• Kelsey Opiela - Kingwood HS - Kingwood, TX - 24.30 (50 FR), 53.10 (100 FR), 56.80 (100 FLY)
• Kathleen Rousset - Cedar Ridge HS - Round Rock, TX - 2:20.92 (200 BR), 1:05.25 (100 BR)
• Meaghan Rousset - Cedar Ridge HS - Round Rock, TX - 1:05.56 (100 BR), 2:21.42 (200 BR)
• Averie Ruiz - Coronado HS - Lubbock, TX - 464.6 (1-meter), 234.8 (3-meter)
• Brittany Thurstin - Bryan HS - Bryan, TX - 24.00 (50 FR)
• Sara Whelan - Riverside Secondary - Port Coquitlam, British Columbia - 58.10 (100 FR SCM), 2:01.82 (200 FR SCM), 4:17.68 (400 FR SCM), 8:52.19 (800 FR SCM)