No. 8 Ranked Bears Sign Seven for Next Year

Nov. 23, 2004

BERKELEY, Calif. - The No. 8-ranked California women's swimming program has signed six top high school swimmers and one diver, head coach Teri McKeever announced today. Next fall the Golden Bears will welcome to Berkeley Jessica Hardy and Lauren Rogers, Olympic Trials finalists, as well as Natalie LaRochelle, Lara Pease, Samantha Heath, and Michelle Newton, all Olympic Trials qualifiers. At the same time, head diving coach Ron Kontura, in his first year with the program, brings in diver Chiara Reese-Hilborn.

Rogers and Hardy boast impressive resumes already: both finished fifth in their respective events at U.S. Olympic Trials in July. A 5-8 backstroker from Concord, Calif., Rogers finished fifth in the 100-meter back at the Olympic Trails and was second in the 100-meter back at Conoco Phillips Summer Nationals. She also posted top ten finishes in both the 100-meter and 200-meter backstrokes at the U.S. Open in 2003 and 2002. The Carondelet High School senior won her first U.S. National title at the 2003 CP Summer Nationals in the 100-meter back.

Hardy, a 5-11 breaststroker/IMer from Irvine, Calif., finished fifth in the 100-meter breaststroke at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and broke the national high school record in the 100-yard breaststroke at the 2003 CIF Championships. The LB Wilson High School senior won a national title at the Conoco Phillips Summer National Championships in the 100-meter breaststroke this summer, as well, becoming a two-time 18 & Under national champion in the event. Hardy was also the High School Swimmer of the Year last year, as a junior.

LaRochelle has competed in several strokes and qualified for U.S. Olympic Trials, the Summer Nationals and U.S. Open Trials in the 200 IM. LaRochelle hails from Vintage High School in Napa, Calif.

Pease, a senior at Wilson High School in Lakewood, Calif., made the 2004 Olympic Trials cut in the 100 backstroke. Pease was also a US National qualifier in the 200 backstroke.

Heath, a local from California High School in San Ramon, Calif., was an 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200 breaststroke, as well as a U.S. Nationals qualifier in the 100 breaststroke.

Newton, a butterflier from Cranford, New Jersey, is the only out-of-state member of the class. She qualified for the Olympic Trials this past summer, as well as the U.S. Nationals in the 100 butterfly. The Cranford High School senior is a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American.