BLACKSBURG, Virg, December 4. THE Virginia Tech swimming & diving staff announced Monday the commitment of seven swimmers and one diver to join the squad for the 2004-2005 season.
"Just like last year, we are going to be losing a substantial portion of our team this May as we are graduating seven men and seven women," said head coach Ned Skinner. "This group of athletes we are graduating not only contributes a lot of points at meets, but they also cover a wide range of events and are excellent leaders for the younger members of this team. We knew in our recruiting efforts this year that we were going to have to get one of everything to counteract the loss of our senior class, and with the athletes we have received commitments from this fall we have the beginning of what could be our best recruiting class ever."
Jessica Botzum is the first to join the Lady H2Okies for the 04-05 inaugural ACC season. Botzum is from Raleigh, N.C., and will graduate from Cardinal Gibbons High School in June. She swims for the Triangle YMCA under the direction of Ron Turner, who once coached current Tech freshmen Neil Savage. Botzum excels in the breaststroke events (1:04, 2:20), but also has a strong 100 fly (57).
"We are very excited about Jessica's decision to become a Hokie. With her strength in the breaststroke, she was a must get for us with losing both Jen Brielmaier and Alyson Dabney this year," Skinner said.
A Texas native who has also committed to the Hokies is Beth Byrum. She hales from Spring, Texas, attends Klein Oak High School and swims for Klein Aquatics. Specializing in the middle-distance and distance freestyle races, Byrum's events range from the 200 free (1:53) to the 500 free (4:55) to the 1,000 (10:09). Byrum was also a member of the 2003 World Championship Team that competed in Barcelona, Spain this summer where she swam the open water 25K.
"Beth swims with a lot of heart and refuses to lose," Skinner said. "In addition to these two attributes, the experience she gained in Barcelona this summer gives Beth all the tools to hit the ground running and be an awesome swimmer for the Hokies."
Becky Horning, a native of Sterling, Va., rounds out the women's early signing class. Horning is a member of the Ashburn Village Swim Team and is a two-time AA Virginia State Champion in the 100 fly (57.28) and 200 free (1:53.96) for Potomac Falls High School. Horning's versatility and speed extends to the 50 free (24.25) and 100 free (53.05) as well.
According to Coach Skinner, "Becky is coming off a summer of hard work and training. She just missed her Senior National cut in the 100 LCM fly going 1:03.9. Becky's brother, Steve, had a great career for the Hokies, so we couldn't be happier with Becky's decision to continue the Horning tradition and success and become a Hokie as well."
Hailing from Chesterfield, Va., Scott Beard is currently enrolled in Manchester High School where he will graduate in June 2004. Beard has only been swimming competitively for two and a half years. This, matched with his size, pure athleticism, and great feel for the water means that Beard is on the doorstep of having some incredible breakthrough swims in numerous events. His best events and times include the 50 free (21.09), 100 free (46.98) 100 back (52.21) and 100 fly (50.38).
"Scott is a very versatile sprinter who will be highly competitive on the ACC level and as his career develops on the national level as well. We are looking for Scott to come in and be a bullet for us in dual meets in numerous events and additionally have an immediate impact on many of our relays next year," Skinner said.
Another Virginian native joining Beard in the sprint group next year will be Jake Bova. Bova comes to Tech from nearby Roanoke, Va., where he is a senior at Hidden Valley High School. He currently competes for the Carter Center Aquatic (CCA) Marlins who also produced senior sprinter for the H2Okies Jamie Trivett. Bova's main focus has been on the 50 and 100 free, 21.75 and 47.71, respectfully, but has the potential to branch out to the 100 back or 200 free for his third event.
"The sky is the limit for Jake," Skinner said. "He has incredible size and is really just ready to explode with all the talent and potential he has. Jake also has an enormous amount of pride for the entire athletic department and the colors of maroon and orange as he his grandfather played basketball for VT. He is going to be an amazing swimmer for us."
Also committing to the Hokies is Austin Fiehler who currently attends and will be graduating from Jamestown High School in the spring. He resides in Williamsburg, Va., and swims for Williamsburg Aquatics the same club team as junior sprinter Aaron Sherman. Fiehler is also an accomplished golfer, showing his athleticism as he excels in two sports. Both IM races (1:55.8, 4:03) are among Fiehler's best, but his 100 fly (52.3) and 200 fly (1:53) are also very competitive events for him.
Skinner says, "I have watched Austin mature as a swimmer and it has been fun to see him develop into a highly competitive athlete. I saw him go a 2:07.5 in a 200 LCM fly this summer, which is a great swim, but I also know he can be just as fine of an IMer as well as distance swimmer for us."
Scott Hudson has also signed with the Hokies on the diving side. Hudson is currently a senior at Lake Braddock High School in Northern Virginia where he holds both the six- and 11-dive records and has been his team captain for all four years. He was the Virginia State High School Diving Champion earning All-American honors in 2003 and has competed in the last six East Coast Nationals, as well as, three summer nationals.
"We are extremely excited to have Scott as a part of our squad next season," said diving coach Bert Locklin. "He will come in and be an immediate contributor and will be very competitive in the ACC."
The last athlete to complete the early signing class for the H2Okies is Kyle Russell. Russell lives in Yorktown, Va., and will graduate from Grafton High School in June. His club team is Typhoon Aquatics coached by Jack Bierie, the same club team as sophomore standout Laura Campbell. Russell has experienced success in the 200 breast (2:07.63) and the 100 breast (58.71), a time qualifying him to compete at the U.S. Open.
"Kyle has a great training and competing background coming from Typhoon and knows how to swim fast. We are looking forward to adding him to our breaststroke core and continuing the tradition of developing great athletes in that area," Skinner said.