University of Minnesota co-head women’s swimming and diving coaches Kelly Kremer and Terry Nieszner have announced that 10 athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent and will join the Gopher program next season. Of the 10, four are the state of Minnesota’s finest senior swimmers.
Paige Bradley hails from Danville, Calif. and Montevista High School. Swimming with the Crow Canyon Swim Club under coaches Dan Cottam and Ethan Hall, Bradley has great experience in the USA Swimming realm. In 2008, Bradley was a U.S. Olympic Trial qualifier in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. She has also been a U.S. national qualifier in the 100 fly, the 200 fly and the 200 individual medley.
“Paige is a natural leader and we suspect she will have an immediate influence on the direction of our team from day one,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “She came into this process and we felt confident she was a great fit for us and our program moving forward. We are very happy that she also felt we were the right fit for her.”
"I chose Minnesota simply because I could not see myself at any other school," Bradley said. "The coaching staff is incredible, and I can tell Kelly and Terry put 110 percent effort into every girl who puts on a Minnesota swim cap. The team is a really close knit group of girls who love and support each other and they made me feel right at home during my trip. Not only is the swimming amazing, but the academics as well, and I know that my education at UM will take me as far as I want to in the professional world. Now all I want is for time to speed up so I can truly be a part of the Golden Gopher family."
Loren Brandon is a native of Centennial, Colo., and Cherry Creek High School. She swims with Mission Aurora Colorado Swimming under coach Andy Niemann. A distance freestyler, Brandon is a U.S. national qualifier in the 1,500-meter free. She finished 10th in the 1,500 free at the 2008 Summer Junior National Championships.
“Loren is a model student-athlete and will find a great fit here at Minnesota,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “Her improvement in the water has been steady, highlighted by her 1500-meter freestyle at Juniors this summer. We are looking forward to helping Loren continue to improve as she has under Coach Niemann’s tutelage.”
"I choose Minnesota because it was my favorite," Brandon said. "It just had the right feel. All of the girls were amazing and on my recruiting trip I felt like I was home. The coaches are spectacular and I feel like they really took the time to get to know me as a person rather than just a swimmer. Minnesota has a great engineering school and for me it just felt like Minnesota was the place where I needed to be!"
Annalise Colton is from Edina, Minn., and competes with Edina High School and the Edina Swim Club. As a junior, Colton was the 2007 Minnesota High School AA state champion in the 100 butterfly. Along with her high school accolades, Colton was a U.S. Junior national qualifier in both the 100 and 200 fly events. She is also on the A Honor Roll at Edina High School.
“Annalise will bring depth to our butterfly events and make an immediate impact,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “She had some outstanding performances this summer and is going to surprise a lot of people.”
Coming to Minnesota from North Kingstown, R.I., Emma Jackson is a senior at North Kingstown High School. Swimming with the Bluefish Swim Club under coach Chuck Batchelor, Jackson is a U.S. national qualifier in the 100 breaststroke. She will graduate in the spring of 2009 and plans to major in business.
“We really enjoyed getting to know Emma throughout this process,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “She is a very dedicated student-athlete and we know she found the perfect fit for her and us here at Minnesota. There is no question given Emma’s background under Coach Batchelor that she will continue to improve greatly, and we feel very lucky she will be doing that as a Golden Gopher.”
" It was important to me to find coaches who cared about me as a person, a team I connected with, and a school where I would be challenged academically," Jackson said. "I definitely found that and more at Minnesota. I love the team and the coaches and I know that both will help make me the best swimmer and person I can be. The academics are very strong and the campus is beautiful and fun. I can't wait to be a Golden Gopher next year!"
Kathryn Johnson is from Golden, Colo., and Ralston Valley High School. As a swimmer with the North Jeffco Swim Club and coach Brett Stoyell, Johnson was a 2008 U.S. Olympic Trial qualifier in the 200 breaststroke and the 400 individual medley. She also competed at the 2008 Summer Junior national championships and placed fifth overall in the 200 breast. At Ralston High School, Johnson was a multiple time high school All-American.
“Katie is another elite student-athlete who found a natural fit with our team,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “We see Katie as an immediate contributor to our NCAA efforts as a freshman next year. She is an outstanding breaststroker and IM’er, but has the versatility to help us in other events as well.”
"When I was at Minnesota for my recruiting trip I definitely felt like I was at home," Johnson said. "It made me feel like leaving Colorado would be easier because I will be starting college with an amazing group of friends. I became so close with some of the other recruits on my trip, as well as a lot of the girls on the team. I am so happy with my decision and wish it were next year right now!"
A native of Winona, Minn., and Winona Senior High School, Abby Staats also competes with the Winona Swim Club. In her junior campaign, Staats was the 2007 AA Minnesota State High School champion in the 50 free. Last year, she was also a Junior national qualifier in both the 50 and 100 free.
“Abbey is a competitor in every sense of the word,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “Her natural sprinting ability is very impressive and her competitive edge is her intensity and hate to lose” attitude.”
Eleanor Prewitt-Thomas is from Lee’s Summit, Mo. She competes with her high school team of Blue Springs High School in her hometown. She is a Junior national qualifier in the 400-meter IM.
“Eleanor is a very versatile swimmer, and we will probably see her swim a variety of events for us,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “Clearly with the graduation of two of our top 400 IM’ers, it opens the door for Eleanor to have an immediate impact in that event.”
"I believe that I can become a successful student-athlete at the U of M." Prewitt-Thomas said. I loved the swim program and the coaches, and the girls on the team felt like family when I went on my visit. The balance between swimming and academics is important to me and the rest of the team. By the end of my recruiting trip I knew that this was the right place for me."
Haley Spencer is a O’Fallon, Mo. native and attends Fort Zumwalt West High School. Competing with the Rockwood Swim Club and coach Mary Liston, Spencer is a member of the U.S. Junior National Team and competes in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. In 2008, Spencer was the 2008 Junior National Champion in the 200 breast. She was a U.S. Olympic Trial qualifier in the 100 and 200 breast and the 400 IM.
“We are very pleased to have Haley join our program,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “Throughout the recruiting process, she carried herself with as much maturity and class as one could possibly expect. She will impact our team immediately both in and out of the pool, and we expect Haley to be a major factor at NCAA’s coming in the door.”
"I chose the University of Minnesota because of its strong academic and swimming programs," Spencer said. "With each recruiting trip I felt more confident that Minnesota was the place for me. Coach Kremer's enthusiasm about the program is infectious, making me excited to swim with this team and experience everything the University has to offer."
Lauren Weis is from St. Paul, Minn., and competes at Cretin-Derham Hall and STAR Swim Club. Last season, Weis was the 2007 AA Minnesota State High School champion in the 200 and 500 free and is the state record holder in the 500 free. Her junior season accolades continued when she was named the 2007 Female AA High School Swimmer of the Year. She was also a U.S. National Qualifier in the 200 free and a Junior national qualifier in the 100 and 400 free.
“Lauren will be one of the leaders immediately in the mid-distance freestyle events,” Kremer and Nieszner said. “She has national level experience and will be a force to contend with in the Big Ten and Nationally.”
Meghan Weiss hails from St. Paul, Minn., and attends Convent of the Visitation High School. Weiss also competes with the STAR Swim Club. Weiss was the Minnesota High School A State Champion in the 100 free (2005), the 200 free (2006) and in the 100 and 200 free last year. She also holds the state’s class A record in both the 100 and 200 free events. Named the 2007 Female A High School Swimmer of the Year, Weiss is also an Honor Roll student. On the national level, Weiss was a Junior national qualifier in the 50, 100 and 200 free.
“Meghan is an outstanding freestyler who will perform in the 50, 100, and 200, for us. She will be a definite factor to contend with on Minnesota’s relays and individually. Meghan knows what has to be done to be a champion and we are very excited about the impact she will make.”