Swimming Signs Seven To National Letters Of Intent

Nov. 28, 2001

SEATTLE - Washington head swimming coach Mickey Wender has announced the signings today of seven high school seniors - five women and two men - to national letters of intent. The seven swimmers will be members of the Husky class of 2006.

'Overall, our fall recruiting class is by far the best we have had in the early signing period since I've been here,' Wender said. 'I feel really good about the people we brought in. They are a very solid and versatile class, but the thing that stood out most, besides their versatility, was how much all of them really wanted to be Huskies.'

On the women's side, the Huskies signed four Washington natives, two of whom qualified for last summer's U.S. senior national meet, and one swimmer from California.

Teammates on the Tacoma Swim Club, Megan Bright (Poulsbo, Wash./Kings West HS) and Haley Wolcott (Puyallup, Wash./Emerald Ridge HS) will give the Huskies a pair of standouts in the freestyle events. Bright, who competed at last summer's senior nationals, was the sectional champion in the 50 free and was a finalist in the mile.

'Megan has come on very strong the past couple of years, especially under (UW alum) coach (Jay) Benner,' Wender said. 'I don't know what Megan's best event will be, probably the 500 free, but she has the potential to contribute in a lot of different areas.'

Wolcott is a distance freestyle swimmer, who has posted top times of 10:11.80 in the 1000 free and 17:08.15 in the 1650 free.

'Haley is a hard worker, great student and has wanted to be a Husky for awhile,' Wender said. 'She has the potential to add a lot to our distance group.'

The team's other two signees from Washington are Liya Liu (Vancouver, Wash./Mountain View HS) and Rachel Owen (Olympia, Wash./Capital H.S.). Liu, a freestyle and butterfly swimmer, chose to sit out her final high school season, but finished third in the 100 free and fourth in the 50 free at the state meet in 2000.

'Liya Liu is one of the most versatile swimmers coming out of the state of Washington this year,' Wender said. 'She's a senior-national level freestyler, who can be competitive in everything from the 50 up to the mile. What we like about her most, however, is her ability to make everyone around her better.'

Owen, meanwhile, helped Capital to the state 4A title in 2001, anchoring the first place 400 freestyle relay and swimming the second leg of the runner-up 200 medley relay. Individually, Owen was third in the 200 individual medley and fifth in the 100 breaststroke at this year's state meet.

'At six-feet tall, Rachel has tremendous physical attributes,' Wender said. 'She has a great attitude and work ethic, plus both of her parents are Huskies, so she grew up wanting to come here.'

The lone signee from California, Sharon Olson (Weaverville, Calif./Shasta HS) is an extremely versatile swimmer, who competes in both backstroke events, in addition to being a top-notch performer in the freestyle events. A member of the Redding Aquaducks, Olson competed at last summer's U.S. senior national championship meet.

'Sharon has sacrificed and committed a lot to her swimming, and there's no question that she really wants to see how good she can be,' Wender said.

On the men's side, the Huskies added a pair of state champions, one from Washington and one from Ohio, to help strengthen the team's backstroke and sprint freestyle groups.

A backstroker, Kurt Hardesty (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier HS) helped St. Xavier to the Ohio state championship and the mythical national team championship in 2001. Hardesty finished second in the 100 back and was a member of two, first-place relays at the state meet.

'Kurt comes in with a time faster than our current school record in the 100 backstroke,' Wender said. 'He's a hard worker, brilliant student and somebody who will definitely make an immediate impact.'

A two-time Washington state champion in the 50 freestyle, Zak Heaton (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue HS) led Bellevue to the state title in 1999 and a runner-up finish in both 2000 and 2001. A year ago, Heaton set the 3A/2A state meet record of 20.74 in the 50 free, while also taking second in the 100 freestyle. A member of the Bellevue Swim Club, Heaton competes in the hurdle events for his school's track team.

'Zak is one of the top male recruits to come out of the state of Washington this year,' Wender said. 'Zak has tremendous natural gifts, and we expect him to continue to develop and be a major player here at Washington.'

2001 Washington Swimming Signees

Name Hometown High School Swim Club Events
Megan Bright Poulsbo, WA Kings West Tacoma Swim Club Freestyle
Liya Liu Vancouver, WA Mtn. View Mount Hood Swim Team Freestyle/Butterfly
Sharon Olson Weaverville, CA Shasta Redding Aquaducks Freestyle/Backstroke
Rachel Owen Olympia, WA Capital Thurston Olympians Breaststroke/IM
Haley Wolcott Puyallup, WA Emerald Ridge Tacoma Swim Club Distance Free

Name Hometown High School Swim Club Events
Kurt Hardesty Cincinnati, OH St. Xavier Cincinnati Marlins Backstroke
Zak Heaton Bellevue, WA Bellevue Bellevue Swim Club Sprint Free

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