Texas Signs Seven Blue Chippers for Women’s Team

AUSTIN, Texas, November 20. THE University of Texas women's swimming co-head coaches Jill Sterkel and Mike Walker announced today the signing of seven top student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for
the 2002-03 academic year.

Joining the Longhorns next year will be Stephanie Anderson (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Leah Avilla (Livermore,
Calif.), Connie Brown (Andover, Mass.), Elaine Ferritto (Columbus, Ohio), Allison McLeod (Austin, Texas), Katie Robinson (Dillsboro, Ind.) and Elizabeth Tinnon (Bowling Green, Ky.). All seven swimmers, who hail from seven different states, have earned high school All-America honors and have competed on the national level.

"Mike (Walker) and I are very excited about this group," co-head coach Jill Sterkel said. "They are talented and experienced, plus they are very versatile. We covered a lot of areas with this class as we signed at least one swimmer for every event, which will help us be a balanced and competitive team in the future."

"This class continues what we've been trying to do at Texas," co-head coach Mike Walker said. "Not only are we bringing in great swimmers who will help the program in the pool, but we're also bringing in great people. All seven girls are the type of people you
want to work with everyday and are great to be around. I look forward to having them here at Texas next year."

Anderson, a two-time Arizona state champion, is a distance specialist who was a 2002 Spring Sectionals champion in the 500-, 1000- and 1,650-yard freestyle. Under head coach Jim Nickel of the Arizona Desert Fox Club, Anderson has earned All-America honors in the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley. Anderson's personal best time of 16:35.00 in the mile would already earn her an NCAA consideration time. In her first national appearance, Anderson posted an 11th-place finish in the 200-meter freestyle at the 2002
Phillips 66 Spring Nationals in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

In Avilla, Texas will add a six-time All-American whose main strengths lie in the breaststroke and the freestyle events. A USA junior team member in 2002, Avilla was a national finalist in the 200-yard breaststroke last season and also captured two sectional championships in the 100-yard breaststroke. A pupil of Rich Thornton at the San Ramon Valley Livermore Aquatics Club, Avilla has posted top times of 1:02.2 in the 100-yard breaststroke and 2:13.00 in the 200-yard breaststroke.

One of the most versatile swimmers in the class is Brown, who has won 16 state titles in Massachusetts as well as setting four individual state records and three relay records. An All-American who was tabbed her high school's Swimmer of the Year as a freshman and a senior, Brown excels in the backstroke, butterfly, the individual medley and the freestyle events. Under head coach Mike Spring of the Merrimack Valley Pirates Swim Club, Brown's has yet to lose a race in high school competition and her top times include:54.5( 100-yard backstroke), 1:58 (200-yard backstroke), 55.0 (100-yard butterfly), 2:01 (200-yard butterfly), 23.2 (50-yard freestyle), 50.2 (100-yard
freestyle), 1:48 (200-yard freestyle) and 4:48 (500-yard freestyle).

Ferritto is another swimmer who has excelled in every event in high school, with her main strengths lying in the individual medley and the backstroke. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Ferritto has earned 16 All-America honors and was the Ohio state champion in the 100-yard backstroke as a junior. In her first three years of high school, Ferritto has garnered All-America honors in the 200-yard medley relay, the 200-yard individual medley, the 100-yard backstroke and the 400-yard freestyle relay. Along with being selected MVP of her team for three years, Ferritto is a member of her school's water polo team that has an 86-0 win streak and captured the state championship this fall.

The only Texan in the class, McLeod didn't start swimming full time until her sophomore year, but already she has distinguished herself as one of the top swimmers in the state. With a time of 2:07.09, McLeod is the state champion and record holder in the
200-yard individual medley. In her first national meet, the 2002 Phillips 66 U.S. Spring Nationals, McLeod posted a 17th-place finish in the 200-meter butterfly.

Robinson is the second recruit Texas has brought in from Indiana in as many years as she will join freshman Kristy Siminksi (Portage, Ind.) on the team in 2003-04. An All-American, Robinson is the state champion and record holder for Indiana in the 100-yard
butterfly . A product of the South Dearborn Swim Team under head coach Shelby Jones, Robinson has posted times of 23.1 and 50.3 in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, respectively, while adding a mark of 54.5
in the 100-yard butterfly.

Tinnon, a product of the Vette City Stingrays and Lakeside Aquatic Club, has already proved to be one of the top breaststroke specialists in high school. At the Phillips 66 U.S. Spring Nationals, Tinnon posted the 13th fastest time of the meet in the 100-meter
breaststroke with a mark of 1:11.79, while also posting a split of 1:11.56 on her team's 400-meter medley relay team that finished eighth overall. A three-time state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke, Tinnon has gone undefeated in her first three years of high school, while posting top times of 1:02 and 2:16 in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, respectively.

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