Huskies Ink Five More Swimmers To Letters Of Intent

May 1, 2007

SEATTLE-- First year head swimming coach Whitney Hite has signed five more standout athletes to national letters of intent, bringing his total number of signees to nine. Hite had signed four swimmers to letters of intent during the fall signing period, including the top female recruit in the country Ariana Kukors.

Among the athletes signed this spring are Ben Aaberg (Tucson, Ariz.), Evan Bernier (Woodinville, Wash.), Andre Blythe (Denver, Colo.), Samantha Dole (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Ally Rich (Hillsboro, Ore.)

'I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of our spring signees,' said Hite. 'The young men and women joining us for the 2007-2008 season all fill major needs on our team.'

Ben Aaberg is a sprint freestyler and individual medley specialist and U.S. National Qualifier. A two-time Tucson Citizen Boy's High School Swimmer of the Year, his lifetime best marks would rank him fourth on the UW all-time list in the 100 freestyle and ninth in the 200 individual medley. Aaberg attended Tucson Sahuaro High School and swam for Tucson For Aquatic Club under coach Roric Fink. He holds Arizona 4A State records in the 100 freestyle (44.81) and 200 IM (1:50.82).

'Ben Aaberg will make an instant impact in the sprint freestyle events and has some great versatility in being able to compete in the 200 IM as well,' said Hite. 'We think that he can be something really special and are expecting him to contribute at the highest level of our sport.'

Evan Bernier is a junior transfer from the University of Minnesota and specializes in the middle distance freestyle, IM and butterfly. A Northwest native, Bernier swam for Bellevue Club Swim Team under coach Klass Schnek and attended Inglemoor High School. Bernier is an NCAA Qualifier and U.S. National Qualifier and his top times would already rank among the program's top-10 in three events. His top time in the 200 freestyle would be a school record (1:36.79), while he would rank second in the 100 butterfly (47.73) and third in the 200 IM (1:48.37).

'Evan Bernier is an instant impact swimmer who already comes in below our school record in the 200 free and ranks in the top three all time in two other events,' said Hite. 'Evan will be joining the team as a transfer-junior and we are looking for him to help our team learn how to compete at the highest level with his NCAA experience. We are ecstatic to have Evan with us and I know that he will continue to develop into a Husky legend.'

Andre Blyth hails from Hite's hometown of Denver, Colo., and swam for both Cherry Creek High School and the North Jeffco Swim Team under coach Brett Stoyell. Blyth is an Olympic Trials Qualifier and boasts lifetime best marks of 50.30 in the 100 butterfly and 1:49.49 in the 200 butterfly.

'Andre Blythe is another high caliber swimmer that we are excited about having with us and has had an exceptional long course season,' said Hite. 'He is already an Olympic Trial qualifier and we are looking to him to help us in the butterfly events'

Samantha Dole, a sprint freestyler, is another Colorado native and swam for Highlands Ranch Aquatics under coach Matt Beck. A U.S. National Qualifier, Dole is the Colorado State Champion in both the 50 and 100 freestyle with lifetime best marks of 23.77 and 52.21, respectively.

'Samantha Dole gives us much needed depth in our sprint freestyle events and has shown very steady progression the past two years in her primary two events, the 50 free and 100 free,' said Hite. 'We think that she can really contribute on relays and add to our already established sprint group.'

Ally Rich rounds out the 2007-08 recruit class and swam for Glencoe High School and the Hillsboro Heat Swim Team. A middle distance specialist, Rich boasts lifetime best times of 1:51.48 in the 200 freestyle and 4:59.55 in the 500 freestyle.

'It is great to have a young lady like Ally Rich on the team,' said Hite. 'Since day one she has wanted to be at Washington and she is really an athlete that will bleed purple and gold. We are looking to her to add to the depth in our middle distance freestyle events and to be a positive presence in the locker room.'

The five spring signees join fall signess Ariana Kukors (Auburn Mountain View High/Auburn, Wash.), Emilee Jennings (Mt. Rainier High/Des Moines, Wash.), Ashley Daly (Holy Names Academy/Seattle, Wash.) and Russell Mahan (Sammamish High/Bellevue, Wash.).