PHOENIX, Arizona, October 24. YOUNG Tae Seo, believed by many to be the Second Coming of Michael Phelps after posting jaw-dropping times in the 200 fly at 14 years old, verbally committed to attend the University of Florida next fall.
“The decision was really tough as I was down to Florida or Navy,” Seo told Swimming World “But, what I liked most about Florida is that Coach [Gregg] Troy was really honest the entire way, and didn't try to force anything. He just made a point of answering all of my questions. Coach Troy is a great coach, and a great man that I can trust. That's why I want to work with him for the next four or five years, and possibly beyond.”
Seo, who swims for Terry Stoddard at Swim Pasadena and preps at Crescenta Valley High School, will thrive in NCAA competition. He will be able to swim the 200s of the strokes and 400 individual medley, the events in which he has excelled over the years. His lifetime best times in the 200 breast, 200 fly and 400 IM are the fastest among all swimmers in the Class of 2013, making him a hot commodity in events that don't typically get the most attention in recruiting, since they do not help with relays. But with Florida head coach Gregg Troy, Seo's potential as a top middle-distance stroke swimmer is limitless, and could help the Gators continue their tradition of doing well at the NCAAs in the 200s of the strokes.
Seo's 1:46.37 in the 200-yard fly and 3:47.74 from the 2010 winter sectionals would have given Seo an invite to last spring's NCAA championships, with the 400 IM good enough to score one point with a 16th-place finish. A possible third event for Seo would be the 200 IM, where he has posted a lifetime best of 1:48.21 from the same meet. Incidentally, all three of these times were done when Seo was just 16 years old. He has struggled in the past two years to maintain his form, but the talent is in place for Seo to do great things on the Florida team and help the Gators replace some major points by the time he is a sophomore.
“Young Tae took this decision seriously and it was a difficult one to make,” Stoddard told Swimming World. “He is a unique athlete in that he has speed and endurance, and in 35 years of coaching the only swimmer that I have coached that can swim three events and go back and forth between speed for a 100 and the toughness of a 200 stroke event. He is very versatile and swims fast all season long, A “Dual Meet Coaches Dream!” He loves to train and has a passion to race! I feel that he is prepared for the next level. Coach Troy will enjoy Young Tae's practice focus, habits and effort! He can “throw it down” with the best. He is always finding his limits in training, if he has any? He can compete at a high level in all four strokes, both IMs and is an incredible Relay Swimmer!”
Seo will come in during the senior year of Marcin Cieslak, who was last season's runner-up in the 200 IM and third-place finisher in the 200 fly. Eduardo Soaleche-Gomez was Florida's top scorer in the 400 IM last season, finishing in 15th place.
Seo will be Florida's biggest recruit of the season. The southern Californian ranked third in CollegeSwimming.com's listing of the top male recruits of the Class of 2013, behind Ryan Murphy and Jack Conger.