DALLAS, Texas, November 16. THE No. 8 SMU women's swimming and diving team had five athletes sign national letters of intent as announced by head coach, Steve Collins. Gabriela Soza, Lauren Jacoby, Elzanne Werth, Sascha Van Den Branden and Audra Egenolf will join the Mustangs next season.
Gabriela Soza, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, is the State Champion in class 4A state 100 fly and member of the champion 200 free relay team. She Attends Flour Bluff High School where she is an high school all-American and was the regional and district Swimmer of the Year. She was MVP of her squad in 2004-05 and has posted career-best times of 23.43 in the 50 free and 51.90 in the 100 free. She is a member of the Corpus Christi Aquatic Alliance team under coach Bill Barton.
"Gabriela is a State Champion in Texas which says a lot about her swimming," said head coach Collins. "It is important for SMU to sign the top swimmers in Texas and she will come to the Hilltop able to contribute at the NCAA level in both individual and relay events. SMU has a strong tradition in the free relays and we feel that Gabriela's speed will be a great asset. She is an excellent student and was impressed with the quality of the pre-med program at SMU. We are excited to have her join the Mustangs."
Lauren Jacoby is from Fairfax Station, Virginia where she attends St. Stephen and St. Agnes High School. She is a four time all-American and was named the Virginia State Independent schools MVP. As a state champion in both, she holds the records in the 100 and 200 free in 2004-05. Jacoby is on the dean's list and volunteers for the Special Olympics. She holds various records at her school and is the team captain for her squad. Her best time in the 50 free is 24.02, 51.72 in the 100 free and 1:51.34 in the 200 free. She swims under coach Pete Morgan for the Curl Burke Swim Club.
"I feel that Lauren has the potential to have a great college career," said Collins. "She is a versatile swimmer that can compete in the freestyle events from the 50 to 200. She also swims the IM and fly as well. She has competed at the US Open and US Nationals and has excelled in both swimming and academics. She will be a great swimmer in our program and we are looking forward to seeing her progress over the next four years."
Elzanne Werth resides in Randburg, Gauteng and attends Randburg High School where she has been named MVP of her squad from 2002-06. She is the Gauteng record holder in the 100 fly. Werth was on the South African National Junior Team from 2003-06 and is currently on the Senior National Team. She has represented South Africa in Brazil and all Africa games where she has won the gold medal in the 50 and 100 fly. She swims of the Waterborn Swimming Club under coach Peter Williams and is an excellent student. Her best times are: 27.29 in the 50 free LC, 58.15 in 100 free LC, 2:07.08 in 200 free LC, 28.19 in 50 fly LC, 1:02.26 in 100 fly LC. She will be looking into the pre-med major at SMU.
"Elzanne will follow in a strong tradition of South African swimmers at SMU," Collins said. "She is an excellent student that has excelled in academics and swimming. She has the potential to be a top swimmer at the international level in swimming for South Africa. Elzanne swims for Peter Williams who has developed many swimmers that have gone on to great things at NCAA and international competition. I feel she is a swimmer who will excel in our program and make a great contribution."
Sascha Van Den Branden, a native of Reiselede, Belgium, attends SIG Campus Topsport. She is a member of the national Belgium team and the provincial record holder in the 50 and 100 free, 50 and 100 fly and the 100, 200 and 400 IM. She was a member of the seventh-place 400 free relay team at the European Championships and the national record holder 400 free relay. She was a finalist at the European Junior Championships. She swims for club team Mega and Ecklo under coaches Herman Verbauwen, Lode Grossen and Stefaan Obreno. Her best times are 26.69 in the 50 free LC, 57.21 in the 100 free LC and 2:03.47 in the 200 free LC.
"Sascha is the latest swimmer to commit to SMU from Belgium," said Collins. "She has the potential to be an Olympic swimmer for Belgium in 2008 and will make a major contribution at the NCAA level for SMU. She has great international experience with her results this summer at the European Championships. Sascha has had great coaches, one being Herman Verbauwen, coach of former SMU great Sandra Cam. She is an excellent student and will major in language and economics. We are excited to have Sascha join the Mustangs."
Off the diving boards for the Mustangs is Audra Egenolf who is from Indianapolis where she attends Heritage Christian Academy. She was named a high school All American as a freshman, sophomore and junior. Egenolf is a National Honor Society member and a USA Diving national age group finalist. She performs for the Indianapolis Stars club team.
"Audra will be a tremendous addition to our team next year," said head diving coach Jim Stillson. "In addition to being an excellent student, she will help us on all three levels. Although her best event is the 10 meter platform, I expect her to be able to score on all three levels at the conference and national level. We are very excited to be adding such an excellent athlete to our team."