GAINESVILLE, Fla., November 19. THE University of Florida men's swimming head coach Gregg Troy announced Wednesday the signing of four athletes to National Letters of Intent. Chris Barnard (Weston, Fla.), Tim Hughes (Winter Park, Fla.), Max Jaben (Overland Park, Kan.) and Tobias Work (Falmouth, Mass.) will join the Gators for the 2004-05 season.
The group of four completes the sixth-ranked Gators' class and brings the total of incoming athletes for the 2004-05 campaign to nine.
"All in all, this is probably the best class that we've had here at the University of Florida in the last four years," Florida head coach Gregg Troy said.
Barnard earned NISCA All-America honors after the 2002 season when he won Florida state titles in both the 200 and 500-yard freestyle, becoming the first athlete to win a state title at Cypress Bay High School. He was named All-Broward County by the Miami Herald in 2002 and in the 2003 Florida state meet, he took third in the 200-yard freestyle and fifth in the 500-yard freestyle.
"He's got great potential," Troy said. "He'll help us in the distance free events and should really help our team in the future."
Hughes will arrive in Gainesville with nearly 10 top-five finishes in his career at the Florida state meet. In 2003, he won the 200-yard freestyle and was part of the winning 400-yard freestyle relay, while also finishing second with the 200-yard medley relay team and third in the 500-yard freestyle. In 2001, Hughes placed first at the state meet on Winter Park's 200-yard freestyle relay, was second with the 400-yard freestyle relay team, placed third in the 200-yard freestyle and was fourth in the 500-yard freestyle. He was a Senior National qualifier in the 200-yard butterfly and a three-time All-American.
"The fly is an area of weakness for us and Tim is excellent in the 200 fly, as well as the distance free events, so he should be able to step in and help us," Troy said.
Jaben, who attends Blue Valley High School, has competed on the international level as a distance freestyler, including the 2001-02 FINA World Cup where he was third in the 1,500-meter freestyle and fifth in the 400-meter freestyle. At the 2003 U.S. ConocoPhillips Summer National Championships, he finished 16th in the 1,500-meter freestyle. At the 2002 summer nationals, Jaben finished fourth in the 800-meter freestyle and sixth in the 400-meter freestyle. Jaben was a member of the 2002 National Junior team and also holds Kansas City Blazers records in both the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyle.
"Max is one of the highest ranked distance freestylers in the country," Troy said. "He'll be able to walk in and score points for us immediately."
Work was named to the 2003 NCSA Junior National All-Star Team in the 200-, 400- and 1,500-meter freestyle, as well as the 400-meter individual medley. He was also named to the New England Swimming Outstanding Swimmers team for the 2002-03 season for both long course meters and short course yards. At the 2003 NCSA Junior Long Course Championships, Work won the 400-meter freestyle, placed second in the 400-meter individual medley and was third in the 800-meter freestyle.
"I think he's going to be the sleeper of the group," Troy said. "He's good in the individual medley and the 200s in each event as well as the distance free. He's a swimmer with a tremendous upside."
On Tuesday, Florida men's swimming announced the signing of five
student-athletes: Dustin McLarty (DeLand, Fla.), Daniel Penniman (Pensacola, Fla.), Darian Townsend (South Africa), J.B. Walsh (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Grant Wieczorek (Carmel, Ind.).