Virginia Tech Announces Seven Signees

BLACKSBURG, Virginia, November 30. THE Virginia Tech women's swimming and diving team has announced the signing of seven swimmers and divers to national letters of intent for the 2007-08 academic year.

Kaleigh Gomes comes from Charlotte, N.C., where she is a member of Mecklenburg Aquatic Club and formerly coached by Dave Gibson. She is one of North Carolina's most talented sprinters, ranking in the top echelon in the state in the 50 (23.50), 100 (51.29) and 200 (1:52.85) freestyle, closing the year out with the top time in the 50 freestyle. Gomes also excels in the sprint breaststroke (1:05.48) and 200 individual medley (2:07.44). Gomes is a senior at Providence High School in Charlotte, N.C., and is looking to major in health and nutrition sciences.

"We couldn't be more thrilled about having one of the best young swimmers from the state of North Carolina coming to Virginia Tech," Virginia Tech swimming and diving head coach Ned Skinner said. "She's a terrific kid with a great family and I'm looking forward to coaching her. Kaleigh has been swimming for one of the greatest programs in America and we feel the foundation will set her up to excel in our sprint program."

Steffi Drechsel is a native of Leipzig, Germany, yet has been living in the United States for nearly two years and attending Ravenscroft School. She trains under Mark Toburen at the YMCA of the Triangle and has top times of 56.49 and 2:02.63 in the backstroke events and 23.70, 51.92, 1:52.39 in the freestyle events. Drechsel has represented her home country in many international meets and has excelled here in the United States helping the YMCA of the Triangle win the combined team championship at the YMCA National championships. A YMCA national record holder, she is a multiple time national finalist at the YMCA championships.

"We are excited to have Steffi joining us next fall," Skinner said. "She's a competitor in every sense and has many international and national swimming experiences to help her succeed at the college level. She will have an important impact for us in the sprint free events and add more fire power in our deep backstroke events."

Marianne Flynn hails from Sinking Spring, Pa., and is a member of the West Shore YMCA and coached by Michael Gobrecht. A multiple time YMCA finalist and Pennsylvania High School finalist, she comes to Virginia Tech to continue the breaststroke tradition. She has top times of 1:03.65 and 2:18.47 in the breaststroke and 2:06.25 and 4:31.49 in the individual medley events, and she recorded the fastest 50 breaststroke split of all medley relay swimmers at last season's short course YMCA National championships. Highly ranked within the state of Pennsylvania in the breaststroke events, she has excelled numerous times at the YMCA championships with team record performances and has lead her West Shore YMCA team to multiple Top 5 team finishes.

"Marianne will contribute greatly to our breaststroke events and IM power," Skinner said. "She has some great speed in the stroke and produces great power from her kick. We are excited to continue her development as a Hokie. She has dropped a great amount of time since she began swimming and we feel our program will help her continue on her path that Coach Gobrecht has created. Marianne will lead the future Hokie breaststrokers at the ACC and NCAA championships."

Emily Tipton is from Bel Air, Md., and swims under Scott Armstrong with the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. She is one of the top distance swimmers from Maryland, earning multiple All-Maryland honors while attending C. Milton Wright High School. A 2005 and 2006 North Baltimore Junior National Team member, she enters her senior year of high school with top times of 1:53.16, 4:55.38, 10:02.65 and 16:54.12 in the distance freestyle events. Interested in studying food and nutrition sciences, she excels in the classroom as well, earning a 2005 Swimming Scholastic All-American nod.

"Emily comes to Virginia Tech a hungry swimmer, which excites us," Skinner said. "She is a very talented swimmer who excels in the distance freestyle and will boost our growing distance program. She is training great and is ready for the challenge of ACC distance swimming. Emily has a great personality and fit in with our team well while on her trip. Emily is a great addition to our team and we are excited to have her join us."

Lauren Haley is a native of Hopewell, Va., and swims for Poseidon Swimming under Ted Sallade. Coming off a great summer of training and competition, she will join the Hokies as a 57.77 and 2:05.42 backstroker. Her development over the past couple of years will add depth to the backstroke core that serves as one of the strengths of the Hokies. Haley, this summer's state champion, is interested in studying biology and health sciences while enrolled at Virginia Tech.

"We are thrilled to have Lauren join the Hokie Family," Skinner said. "Lauren is starting to take-off with her swimming and we feel she has just scratched the surface. The backstroke group is one that trains well together and Lauren will fit right in. She brings a fire to racing and that is something we look for when spotting athletes."

Sarah Milton was born in Oakville, Ontario, and moved to the United States in 1995. She is most recently from Plano, Texas, and trains with the Mustangs in the Sun Diving Club at SMU. She also trained at the Woodlands Diving Academy in The Woodlands, Texas. Beginning gymnastics at age four, Milton has a great background in both gymnastics and diving and has trained in some of the best programs in the country for both sports. As a Canadian citizen, Milton has been unable to compete in USA Diving competitions, but has become a record-breaking performer at Plano West High School. Milton's background both on springboard and platform will prove her to be a great addition to the women's Hokie squad. Milton also has been a student council member, participated in Junior Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps and is planning on majoring in engineering.

"Sarah is going to be a great addition to the Hokies on the boards," head diving coach Ron Piemonte said. "Her strong work ethic will help her climb into the elite group of the ACC and her determination will feed off on her teammates. I believe her tower experience will prove to be vital in the year's first scoring of the event."

Lauren Ritter, a native of Sterling, Va., comes to Virginia Tech as one of the top distance freestylers in the state. A two-time MVP, three-time state champion and three-time All-Extra Team, Ritter swims under Ray Benecki at The Fish. Entering her senior year at Dominion High School, Ritter has posted swims of 1:51.21, 4:54.11, 10:00.80 and 16:45.28 in the freestyle and 2:08.73 and 4:26.91 in the individual medleys. Ritter, a US National qualifier in the distance events, is coming off a summer of great time drops.

"Lauren is a fun and passionate individual that possess a fire for swimming fast," Skinner said. "Lauren has improved greatly over the last couple of years and we feel it is just the beginning for her. She is a fierce competitor and will raise our distance crew to another level. Lauren was our first commitment this recruiting season and we feel the other signees fed off her enthusiasm. Along with Beth Byrum, Stephanie Jones and fellow signee Emily Tipton, we feel our distance program will be among the conference's best."

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