ERLANGER, Kentucky, November 19. WHEN Scott High School senior Chris Seitz made a recruiting visit to the University of Texas he found a swimming program that could take him to a higher level. Nine members of the United States men's swimming team that competed in the 2000 Olympics came out of the Texas program, and the Longhorns' current roster includes two world-record holders.
Seitz signed a letter of intent with Texas on Monday to tap into the team's success under head coach Eddie Reese.
"When I went down there for a visit I fell in love with it," Seitz said. "Just being around all those world record holders I knew those guys would be pushing me every day to reach my goals."
Seitz was recruited by major-college teams from across the country, including Southern California, Arizona, Michigan and Virginia.
Versatility made him a top college prospect. In the latest USA Swimming national rankings for the boys' 15-16 age group, he's among the leaders in several different events.
Seitz, 16, has the second-fastest time in both the 200-meter backstroke (2:04.52) and the 200-yard backstroke (1:48.02). He also ranks fifth in the 100-yard backstroke, 100-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly.
"Chris just has a lot of raw talent, and I think that's what coach Reese saw in him, too," said Scott coach Jerry Mohr.
The Longhorns have won eight NCAA Division I men's swimming championships under Reese, who was named coach of the 2004 U.S. Olympic men's team.
Seitz is looking forward to seeing how the veteran coach will develop his talents.
"I'm going in as 100 freestyle and 200 backstroke, but he wants to work with me on other things," Seitz said.
"I'm not stuck on any one stroke. If they want to do something else, I'll do it. I don't really know what my best stroke is yet."
Seitz isn't the first Northern Kentucky swimmer recruited by Reese. Covington Catholic graduate Nate Dusing was one of the Longhorns on the 2000 Olympic team, and he led Texas to the 2001 NCAA Division I championship.
Reese molded Dusing into an Olympic-caliber swimmer, and Seitz expects the coach to do the same for him.
"He talked to me about that," Seitz said. "He said he wants to get me primed for the 2008 Olympics. But nothing's set in stone. It's going to take a lot of hard work to get there."
Seitz has been a member of the Scott swim team for several years. He won his first individual state title in the 100-yard freestyle last February, but he has earned high school All-America honors eight times in state meet competition.
Seitz has had more success competing in USA Swimming age-group events with the Northern Kentucky Clippers club team that trains year-round at the Silverlake Recreation Center in Erlanger.
He holds team records in several boys' 15-16 age group events and he was recently selected for the U.S. Junior National Team that will compete in an international meet in Australia in January.
Clippers senior level coach Andy Rose said Seitz "had the pick of the litter" when it came to college scholarship offers, but he's glad he chose Texas.
"When you have an athlete go to a very high-profile program that has a chance to win a national title it definitely puts (the Clippers) in the national spotlight," Rose said.