Swimming Signs Eight to National Letters of Intent

Nov. 21, 2008

SEATTLE - University of Washington head swimming coach Whitney Hite announced the signing of eight high school seniors to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday. The eight swimmers will join the Husky program for the 2009-10 season.

The recruiting class includes three women and five men, four of which are in-state products. The women's signees are Kaleigh Heard (Pickering, Ontario, Canada), Leona Jennings (Seattle, Wash.) and Briana Meyer (Seattle, Wash.) while the men include Lewis Anderson (Carlsbad, Calif.), John Dalton (Golden, Colo.), Thomas Dowley (Oakland, Calif.), Murray Longbotham (Mercer Island, Wash.) and Cody Roberts (Richland, Wash.).

Jennings is the most heralded of the group as she nearly qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in the 100 back. A Seattle, Wash., native who trains locally at the King Aquatic Club and attends Mount Rainier High School, Jennings is strong in both the backstroke and freestyle events. She finished sixth at the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 100 back.

Jennings recently broke two state records in the 50 free and the 100 free. The 50 free record was previously held by Bainbridge Island native Emily Silver, a 2008 Olympian.

'Leona is one of the top recruits in the nation, if not the top,' Hite said. 'I couldn't be more excited having her come on board. She comes from a great family and comes from a great program with Sean Hutchison at King County Aquatics. She is an elite-level athlete and she's someone you build a program around. Her time in the 100 back would have been top-six in NCAAs last year.

Heard comes to the UW from the Harbord Collegiate Institute in Pickering, Ontario, and was a 2008 Canadian Olympic Trials Qualifier. A member of the Toronto Swim Club, she specializes in the IM and freestyle races.

'Keleigh has a lot of potential,' Hite said. 'She has already been swimming fast in the IM and breaststroke and being a good IMer makes her a little more versatile for us. We're looking for her to be an immediate contributor to our team. We're really happy she's on board.'

The final recruit on the women's side is Briana Meyer, a Seattle, Wash., native who attends Ballard High School. A member of the Salmon Bay Aquatics club, Meyer specializes in the freestyle, butterfly and IM events.

'Briana had a little stronger showing on long course than short but she'll figure it out and surprise some people and swim well,' Hite said of Meyer, who also considered Columbia and Brown. 'She's a smart student, works hard and we're happy to have her. Having another local product is all the more valuable.'

On the men's side, Lewis Anderson comes to the UW from Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, Calif., where he also trains for the North Coast Aquatics club. Anderson, who also considered MIT, specializes in freestyle events.

'I've been waiting to recruit Lewis for about four years and couldn't me more excited he's now a Husky,' Hite said. 'He is an outstanding student and his swimming potential is off the charts. He's 6-9 and he's the type of guy who is going to get stronger and get better and people will be kicking themselves for not recruiting him. He fits the mold of a young man who has tremendous athletic potential and is very, very smart.'

John Dalton comes to UW from Golden, Colo., and Arvada West High School. He also competes for North Jeffco Swim Team and specializes in freestyle events.

'I saw John swim this summer and he has a great feel for the water,' Hite said. 'He has a huge upside. He's a hard worker, a good kid and certainly can do some great things for us in the mid-distance freestyle events.'

Thomas Dowley, an Oakland, Calif., native who attends Campolindo High School, specializes in freestyle and IM events.

'Tommy is another tall, lanky kid with a lot of potential,' Hite said. 'His best swims are ahead of him. He can help out most in the free and IM events but he doesn't have one bad stroke. He's a good pick up for us and will be very solid.'

A Mercer Island, Wash., native, Murray Longbotham specializes in the freestyle and butterfly events. He also competes for the Bellevue Swim Club.

'It's always good to get some local kids and Murray is a great butterflier,' Hite said. 'He's a kid who can come in and have a big impact on our program. His club coach has done a great job historically of producing some great swimmers and we're excited he's coming to Washington.'

Hite's eighth recruit is Cody Roberts from Richland, Wash. Roberts, who competes for Tri City Channel Cats, specializes in the butterfly.

'Cody is another in-state kid who is loaded with talent and potential,' Hite said. 'He's a bigger kid and I think he's going to help in the butterfly and back events. He's a very good pick up for us.'

The 2008-09 Washington swim team heads south this weekend to take on the No. 1 ranked men and No. 4 ranked women from the University of Texas in Austin on Friday at Noon PT. The Huskies will then compete in the Texas A&M Invitational on Saturday and Sunday in College Station, Texas, where this season's NCAA Championships will be held.

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