AUBURN, Ala, December 11. THE defending NCAA Champion Auburn men's swimming team has signed seven individuals for the upcoming season, AU Head Coach David Marsh announced on Wednesday. Signing National Letters of Intent were Andrew Callahan, Rory Connell, Scott Goodrich, Shai Livnat, Jeff Smith, Matt Viglione and Luke Weniger.
Callahan, a native of nearby Alpharetta, Ga., heads to the Plains from Dynamo Swim Club where he is coached by Alex Braunfeld. A 2004 National Junior Team selection, he was also a part of the 2003 National Select Camp. A 200-meter breaststroke state record holder, he has also earned high school all-America honors. The breaststroke and IM specialist has also been very successful in the classroom, earning scholastic all-America honors for two academic years. He chose the Tigers over Northwestern, Virginia, Indiana and Minnesota.
"I chose to come to Auburn because of the great team, great people, terrific coaches top-notch facilities and a strong southern tradition," Callahan said. "I expect over the next four years to be accomplished both in the classroom and in the pool. I hope to improve and to contribute to Auburn's continued success."
"Andrew has tremendous ability in training. As he adds strength and maturity, he'll develop into a top national athlete," Marsh said.
Connell heads to Auburn from Jaime Skinner's Team Delaware in Newark, Delaware. A middle-distance freestyle and butterfly specialist, he is the Delaware High School state record holder in the 200 free. A 15-time NISCA All-American, he is a 2004 Junior National Team selection as well as a three-time NISCA/SPEEDO State High School Swimmer of the Year. He chose AU over Texas.
"Rory has a close knit family, most of whom are involved in swimming. He's a highly talented swimmer who should have an immediate impact at the NCAA level," Marsh said.
"I chose Auburn because of the incredible family atmosphere among the coaches and swim team as a whole. The coaches are always looking into new and interesting ways to improve the swimmer's abilities in and out of the water, using the most up-to-date resources to focus on techniques and mechanics," Connell said. "The great support system of teachers, tutors and peer students set up throughout the institution for student-athletes and school work also played a role in my decision."
Goodrich comes east to Auburn from Glendale, Ariz., where he swims for Charlie Cunningham's Arizona Swimming Gauchos. A backstroke and sprint freestyle specialist, he currently holds the 100 backstroke record for class 5A high schools in Arizona. An Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100 back, he is also a national qualifier in the 50 free. He chose the Tigers over Minnesota.
"On Scott's visit to Auburn it was evident he has big goals and he quickly found a home to pursue those goals at Auburn," Marsh said.
Livnat heads to Auburn from Vardia 9, Haifa, Israel where he trains at the Wingate Institute. A middle-distance freestyle specialist, he is the national record holder in both the 200 and 400 freestyles. The top finisher at the 2003 nationals in the 100 free, he was also a member of the 2003 World Championship team that competed in Barcelona this past summer.
"Shai has emerged as one of the top up-and-coming middle-distance freestylers in the world," Marsh said.
Smith will join the Tigers from Mandeville, La., where he swims for Brian Gorhes and Franco's Fins. A national qualifier and state champion, he is a distance freestyle and IM specialist. A member of the Saint Paul's honor roll, he chose AU over NC State and Penn State.
"I felt that Auburn was a good combination of athletics and academics," Smith said. "The team spirit was a major factor in my decision."
"Jeff will be a welcome addition to the distance group at Auburn," Marsh said. "He has plenty of untapped talent."
Viglione comes to Auburn from Portland, Ore., where he swims for Paul Bergen's Tualatin Hills Thunderbolts. A national qualifier in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes, he has held a 3.6 GPA throughout his high school career. He chose the Tigers over Ohio State, Texas, Purdue and Washington.
"Matt is excited to take on the challenges that await him at Auburn," Marsh said. "Matt has been improving quickly and we look forward to helping him along in that process."
"The team made me feel at home and that was why I chose Auburn," Viglione said. "The team philosophy really made a strong impact on me as a swimmer and a student. After I visited, I knew Auburn was where I wanted to be."
Weniger, who rounds out the fall signing class, comes from Pittsford, N.Y., where he swims for the Greater Rochester Racing Raiders, coached by Rick Aronberg. A sprint free and butterfly specialist, he holds four Pittsford Sutherland High School Records and is the state champion in the 100 butterfly. A senior national qualifier, he chose Auburn over NC State, Penn State, Clemson and the Naval Academy.
"Luke is strong and athletic," Marsh said. "I feel being in a NCAA championship environment will help to bring out the best in him."