Prairie)The Minnesota women's swimming and diving team has signed four athletes to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. The athletes are Sarah Solfelt (Eden Prairie, Minn./Eden Prairie), Kathryn Coombe (Minnetrista, Minn./Wayzata), Paige Gilgan (Eagan, Minn./Eagan), and Suzanne Souders (Belleville, Ill./Belleville West). All four athletes will begin their careers at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 2001.
"This is the best early signing period we have ever had at the University of Minnesota," said Minnesota head coach Jean Freeman. "We have built the tradition of this program on recruiting the best high school swimmers in the state of Minnesota, and we have done that this year."
Solfelt was the only high school student in the state of Minnesota to attend the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis. She is ranked first in the state of Minnesota in four events, including the 100 backstroke and the 100 butterfly. Solfelt won the 200 butterfly at the Junior National meet in August, and the 200 freestyle and the 100 butterfly at the 1999 Minnesota State AA meet. "Solfelt can make an immediate impact on this program in four or five events, and will be a leader on this team for years to come," said Freeman.
Coombe is one of the top freestyle swimmers in the state of Minnesota. She has not lost in her senior season in the 50 freestyle or the 100 freestyle. Coombe was the 1999 Minnesota State AA Champion in the 100 freestyle.
Gilgan's strengths are in middle-distance freestyle and backstroke. She was the runner-up at the 1999 Minnesota State AA championship to Solfelt in the 200 freestyle, and was runner-up in the 100 backstroke. The three-time team MVP was a finalist at the 2000 Junior National meet in the 200 backstroke.
Souders attended the 2000 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Indianapolis, competing in the 200 backstroke. The Illinois native should help the Gophers in both backstroke events and middle-distance freestyle events.
The two-time defending Big Ten champion Golden Gophers are ranked 16th in Speedo America's CSCAA Preseason Poll. Minnesota (2-0) will next swim in a dual meet at Iowa State on Saturday at 1 p.m.