Florida Gators Add 23 Men And Women To Incoming Class

1/8/2011; Gainesville, Fla.; University of Florida Gators Swimming & Diving vs. Georgia Tech. Women's Swimming.
Photo Courtesy: Troy Zalewski

The Florida Gators added 19 swimmers and four divers to the incoming class of 2018 after the early signing period. The men’s squad will add 13 newcomers, while the women’s team adds 10.

Gators head coach Gregg Troy applauded the efforts of his coaching staff on bringing in such strong classes on both the men’s and women’s teams.

“We had a tremendous last three months of recruiting,” said Troy. “Anthony Nesty and Steve Jungbluth did a fantastic job organizing everything on the men’s side, where we signed some really great guys. On the women’s side, Jeff Poppell has worked tirelessly in the last year. This may be one of the best women’s classes we’ve ever had at Florida.”

This class brings a plethora of experience, both on the national front and internationally. There are numerous championship medalists and record holders joining the Gators in the fall.

“We’re losing a lot of great people on the men’s side this year, but the incoming class has the potential to be just as good,” said Troy.

“On the women’s side, we’ve been a bit weaker of the past couple of years,” Troy said. “This class, paired with the people we already have, is going to put us in a good situation. The new group is really going to put us over the top.”

Diving coach Bryan Gillooly is excited to see what these divers have in store for the years to come.

“This is a great class for us,” said Gillooly. “We had to do a little bit of rebuilding, especially on the men’s side. I am really excited about the three men we’re bringing in on the men’s side and about bringing Lauren Snider to the women’s team.”

There will be another signing period for additional signees in the spring.

Below is a list of the 23 early signees.

Layla Black

Whitekirk, England | St. Wilfrid’s Catholic School

  • 2017 European Junior Champion – 200m breaststroke
  • Three-time Commonwealth Youth Games gold medalist (Samoa 2015, Bahamas 2017)
  • First athlete to win gold at 2 consecutive Commonwealth Youth Games – 200m breaststroke
  • Silver medalist at the 2016 European Junior Championships – 200m breaststroke
  • Two-time Bronze medalist at the European Games – 200m breaststroke & 4x100m medley relay
  • Four-time British age group record holder
  • Became the first person at the City of Leeds Swimming Club to become a European Junior Champion – doing so under coach Richard Deivigan
  • Holds 13 British national medal (eight gold, two silver and three bronze)
  • Named England Junior Swimmer of the Year in 2015
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose UF because of its stellar academic and athletic programs. I truly feel this is the best place for me to reach my potential both in and out the pool. I can’t wait to get to Gainesville and start my time at UF. Go Gators!”
  • Troy on Layla: “Layla is the best junior British breaststroker, she is going to give us a lot of depth in the breaststroke paired with the girls we currently have. What used to be a real weakness for us is going to be a great strength.”

Trey Freeman

Chattanooga, Tenn. | Baylor School

  • Two-time Scholastic All-American – 2016 & 2017
  • USA Swimming National Jr. Team – 2016 & 2017
  • 2017 18 & under National Champion – 200 free and 400 free
  • Medaled at the 2017 World Junior Championships
  • Medaled at the Jr. Pan Pacific Games
  • Tennessee High School Record Holder
  • Three-time NICSA All-American selection – 2015, 2016 & 2017
  • Why he chose UF: “The coaches, team and support staff made me feel at home. I look forward to being a Gator!
  • Troy on Trey: “Trey is one of the best middle-distance freestyle swimmers in the class. He also swims a lot of other strokes that a lot of people don’t know about. He is really well-rounded out of the Baylor School. He also brings a lot of speed for us.”

Leah Braswell
Manchester, Pa. | Home Schooled

  • National Junior Team member
  • 2017 FINA World Junior Team member
  • 2017 World Junior Championship Trials 18 & under champion in the 400 free
  • YMCA Short Course National Champion – 1000 free and 1650 free
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose UF because I had always wanted to attend and swim there. When I visited, everything just clicked. I loved the coaches and the team and knew it was the place for me.”
  • Troy on Leah: “Leah is a tremendous freestyler; she can swim everything from the 50 to 1650, relays included. She is also a great medley swimmer, so pairing her with Vanessa Pearl in the medley is going to give us a 1-2 punch.”

Dillon Hillis

New York, N.Y. | Florida Virtual School

  • Qualified and swam at the 2016 US Olympic Trials at the age of 15 – 100 breaststroke
  • Competed at the 2017 World Championship Trials
  • 18 & Under National Champion at the 2016 AT&T Winter Nationals – 100 breaststroke
  • Competed in finals of five events at the 2016 AT&T Winter Nationals – 100 & 200 breaststroke, 100 & 200 butterfly and the 200 IM.
  • Why he chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because there is no better place to be a student-athlete in the world. UF Has the best legacy of fast swimming and I can’t wait to be a part of it!”
  • Troy on Dillon: “Dillon is a big, powerful kid. As he continues to go through college, he is just going to develop even further. He came very recommended and is a really versatile guy.”

Isaac Davis

Jacksonville, Fla. | North Florida Christian Academy

  • 16 State Age Group Champion – 50 free, 100 free, 100 free and 4×100 free relay
  • C-finalist in the 2015 Speedo Junior Nationals – 50 free
  • Six-time Speedo Junior National medalist
  • Why he chose UF: “I chose to attend the University of Florida because I believe my goals will be achieved there.”
  • Troy on Isaac: “Isaac, along with his brother Will, are two of the best sprinters coming up. They both have great speed and it will be difficult to fill the Caeleb Dressel shoes, but both Isaac and Will have the potential to go a long way in the sport.”

Will Davis

Jacksonville, Fla. | North Florida Christian Academy

  • Currently holds 16 Age Group state record – 100 back
  • Nine-time Speedo Junior National medalist – five golds, three silver, one bronze
  • 2016 Winter Junior National Meet record holder – 400 medley relay
  • Competed in the 2016 US Olympic Trials – 50 free
  • Competed in the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships – 50 free, 100 free, 100 fly
  • C-finalist in the 50 free at the Phillips 66 Championships
  • Finalist at the FINA World Junior Championships – 50 free
  • Member of the 2017-18 Junior National Team
  • Swam with the Bolles School Sharks
  • Why he chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because of the overwhelming sense of pride that comes with becoming a Florida Gator.”
  • Troy on Will: “Will, along with Isaac, are two of the best sprinters coming up. They both have great speed and it will be difficult to fill the Caeleb Dressel shoes, but both Isaac and Will have the potential to go a long way in the sport.”

Lyle Hayes-Macaluso

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. | Pine Crest School

  • Seven-time FHSAA State Championship finalist
  • 2016-17 NISCA All-American
  • USA Diving National Championships semifinalist – platform (16-18)
  • YMCA National Championship finalist – platform
  • Why he chose UF: “It is an excellent academic university with a great diving program. I want to dive with Bryan Gillooly.”
  • Bryan on Lyle: “I worked with him previously when I was in Fort Lauderdale; he is a great diver and an even better person. He’s a great platform diver, which we were looking to add, so he will be strong for us there. He brings a great attitude and enthusiasm that we are really going to appreciate.”

Miguel Cancel
Miami, Fla. | Gulliver Prep School

  • 2016 Olympic Trials Qualifier – 400 IM
  • Junior National Finalist – 2015 & 2016
  • Florida High School State Champion – 100 free, 500 free and 200 IM
  • All-American – 100 free, 500 free and 200 IM
  • Gulliver Prep Team Captain – Junior and Senior seasons
  • Holds four Florida Gold Coast swimming records for the 15-16 age group – SCY: 500 free, 200 fly and 400 IM; LCM: 200m fly
  • Why he chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because this school offers great academic opportunities along with an exceptional athletic program. Most importantly, I feel at home when I am on campus and I truly feel I will succeed both academically and athletically. It is an honor to be part of the Gator family! Go Gators!”
  • Troy on Miguel: “He gives us a great option at IM; we are losing two really strong IMers in Mark Szaranek and Jan Switkowski. He is really well-rounded athlete and can be a go-to guy for four years.”

Kieran Smith

Ridgefield, Conn. | Ridgefield High School

  • US National Junior Team member – 2017
  • World ranked in the 200m IM (31st) and 400m IM (42nd)
  • Silver medalist at the 2017 FINA World Junior Championships – 200m IM
  • Finished sixth at the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships – 400m IM
  • Finished third in the 2017 US Open – 400m IM
  • Connecticut Swimmer of the Year – 2017
  • Connecticut HS Coaches Association Swimmer of the Year – 2016 & 2017
  • NISCA All-American – 100 back, 200 & 500 free, 200 medley relay
  • USA Scholastic All-American and Connecticut Scholar Athlete
  • Record holder in the state of Connecticut, Ridgefield Aquatic Club and Ridgefield High School
  • Why he chose UF: “UF is the perfect fit for me. They have an excellent program in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, which is exactly what I am looking for. On the swimming side, the coaches help IMers like myself thrive.”
  • Troy on Kieran: “He’s going to be another great IMer for us to count on in all four years. He brings great speed and can be an all-around guy for us in the strokes and the relays.”

Santiago Morales

Augusta, Ga. | The Westminster Schools

  • Placed third in the 2017 Georgia 1-5A High School (GHSA) Diving Championships as a junior
  • Captain at the Westminster School under Olympic Medalist Cynthia Potter
  • Member of the 2015 & 2016 Westminster Swimming & Diving State Championship teams
  • Selected as a 2017 NISCA All-American Diver
  • Former Member of the Peru Junior National Dive Team
  • USA Diving Nationals Qualifier on all three boards – 2014
  • Club diver at Atlanta Diving Association under Stevie Vines
  • Why he chose UF: “I have known Coach Gillooly for many years from regional and zone meets throughout the state of Florida. I am thrilled that he invited me to be a part of his program and to continue my diving career with current SEC Swimming and Diving Champions. I am also excited to begin my studies in finance at the highly ranked Heavener School of Business. Both the team and the school are incredible. I cannot wait to see where the next four years at Florida will take me.”
  • Bryan on Santiago: “He has outstanding fundamentals. He has a lot of experience and a solid foundation, so we are ready to get him stronger. We’re really happy to have him, he’s got a great attitude.”

Lauren Snider

Orlando, Fla. | Lake Highland Prep School

  • National platform finalist at the USA Diving Nationals – 2016
  • Three-time USA national qualifier and semi-finalist
  • YMCA National platform champion – 2016
  • FHSAA IA state finalist on 1-meter – 2017
  • Bryan on Lauren: “Couldn’t be happier to have Lauren here. She is going to fall into the mold of being an outstanding diver for us. Lauren is a great platform diver, she is going to have a bright future here.”

Mabel Zavaors

Burlington, Ont., Canada | Iroquois Ridge High School

  • Won two gold medals at the FINA World Junior Championships – 4x200m medley relay & 4x100m medley relay
  • Finished fourth in the 200m fly, eighth in the 100m fly and 11th in the 50m fly at the FINA World Junior Championships
  • Earned two bronze medals at the 2017 Canadian Trials – 50m & 200m fly
  • Won two gold medals at the 2017 Canadian Juniors – 100m & 200m fly
  • Won one silver medal at the Canadian Juniors – 200m free
  • Earned seven medals at the 2017 Canadian Championships – four gold (100m & 200m fly and two relays), one silver (400m IM), two bronze (200m back and 1500m free)
  • Finished fifth in the 200 fly at the 2016 World Junior Pan Pacific Games
  • During the 2016-17 swim season, she was ranked first in the 200m fly in Canada and 43rd in the world
  • Canadian age group (15-17) record holder in the 200m fly
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because of the amazing academic program and the welcoming atmosphere of the swim team.”
  • Troy on Mabel: “Very well rounded athlete, who has the speed in the strokes. She came very highly recommended, along with her sister Rosie. We are very lucky to have the two of them joining us. Mabel is one of the best 200 butterfly swimmers in the world. She has good speed and can also swim the medley for us.”

Rosie Zavaors

Burlington, Ont., Canada | Iroquois Ridge High School

  • Finished 12th in the 200m back at the FINA World Junior Championships
  • Finished eighth in the 200m back at the 2017 Canadian Trials
  • Won two silver medals at the 2017 Canadian Junior Championships – 100m back and 4x100m medley relay
  • Qualified for the 2016 Canadian Junior Pan Pacific Team
  • During the 2015-16 swim season, she was ranked 86th in the world in the 200m back
  • Petro Canada Face athlete nomination – 2016
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida for its stellar academics and amazing success in the pool.
  • Troy on Rosie: “Rosie is also very well-rounded and highly recommended from her coach. We’re lucky to have signed both of them. She’s dealt with some injuries, but she is a tremendous backstroker. She is going to help our backstroke become a very strong event.”

Vanessa Pearl
McKinney, Texas | McKinney High School

  • US National Team Member – 2017-18
  • 2017 US Open High Point Winner
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida for many reasons: the amazing academics, accomplished swim team, wonderful coaches and overall atmosphere, just to name a few.”
  • Troy on Vanessa: “She is one of the premier swimmers in the class, just a great overall athlete. She provides a big need for us and have enough speed that she can swim on the relays, just a really great addition for us. She comes highly recommended and has a great background.”

Ellie Zweifel

Columbia, Mo. | Rock Ridge High School

  • Two-time Missouri State Champion
  • Missouri state record holder in the 200 medley relay
  • 2017 High School All-American
  • Troy on Ellie: “She brings good speed and comes highly recommended from her coach. She is a great student and she will add tremendous depth and speed to the breaststroke. It will help us the whole way around.”

Nick Hackett

Fleming Island, Fla. | Fleming Island High School

  • 3A State Champion – 200 freestyle & 100 butterfly
  • Two-time 3A State Champion – 200 freestyle relay
  • Three-time High School All-American
  • Three-time Scholastic High School All-American
  • Junior National Finalist – 100 & 200 butterfly
  • First Coast Swimmer of the Year in 2016
  • Earned an AICE Advanced Honors Diploma
  • Why he chose UF: “Florida is a Top-5 National Swim Program and has an excellent engineering program. Go Gators!
  • Troy on Nick: “Nick is another really big, powerful guy for us. He is versatile and is going to fill a butterfly need for us. He’s another one that came highly recommended to us.”

Kacper Stokowski

Warsaw, Poland | LIX Mistrzotwa Sportowego

  • Holds two World Junior Records in SCM – 50 back and 100 back
  • Swam at the FINA World Championships
  • Won bronze at the FINA Junior World Championships – 50 back
  • Finished fifth at the FINA Junior World Championships – 100 back
  • Won gold at the 2016 European Junior Swimming Championships – 200 free
  • Troy on Kacper: “Kacper is the same mold as both Pawal Werner and Jan Switkowski in the fact that he can swim everything. He’s got good freestyle speed, tremendous backstroke speed and he’s swam some butterfly in the past. He’s a tough racer that can do everything, he is going to be a tremendous addition.”

Robert Finke

Clearwater, Fla. | Countryside High School

  • Team USA World Championship qualifier at FINA – 2017
  • Member of the USA Swimming National team
  • Member of Team USA at the 2016 Jr. Pan Pacific Games
  • USA Swimming Scholastic All-American
  • Why he chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because of the coaching staff and the team. It is a great place to develop character.:
  • Troy on Robert: ‘’Robert is one of the best distance freestylers in the entire United States, he is certainly the best young one. He is a tremendous addition to the squad and will fill some of the distance voids that we have graduated in the last couple of years. His older sister Autumn went here, so it will be great to have another Finke in the program.”

Timothy Marski

Lynbrook, N.Y. | Lynbrook High School

  • 2014 Long Course Junior Olympics Championships – first place, high point award winner
  • 2015 Junior Olympics – first place, high point award winner
  • Made Olympic Trials cut at age 15
  • 2016 Long Course Senior Championships – first place, high point award winner
  • Troy on Timothy: “He is a distance freestyler from a great club in Long Island, N.Y. and comes highly recommended by his coach. We’re going to graduate a lot of distance guys this year, so Tim is one we are going to need to develop so he can give us great depth in the distance events.”

Nicholas Lydon

Clifton Park, N.Y. | Shenendehowa High School

  • Holds diving record for his school and the school’s pool
  • Three-time state finalist
  • NISCA All-American
  • AAU National Champion
  • Six-time USA National Qualifier
  • Finished 13th on the 1-meter in 2015 at USA Nationals – 14-15 age group
  • Bryan on Nick: “He has a lot of untapped potential and he’s already had a lot of good results, he’s going to get a lot better here, which is great for us.”

Kalie Novosedliak

Carlsbad, Calif. | Carlsbad High School

  • Winner of the 500 freestyle at the 2017 San Diego Division I CIF
  • Earned first junior national cut at the 2017 Southern California sectionals
  • Member of the North Coast Aquatics club team, which won first place at the Future Championships
  • North Coast Aquatics senior girls won first place overall at Futures Championships
  • Member of the relay team that won the 400 free relay and 800 free relay at the Futures Championship
  • Why she chose UF: “I am so happy to continue my swimming career at the University of Florida. During my official visit, everyone made me feel right at home. I love the support they give to their student-athletes, the campus and most importantly, the team. I think UF is the perfect fit for me academically and athletically and I can’t wait to be a part of something so special. Go Gators!
  • Troy on Kalie: “We don’t get many West Coast people, but when we do, they always do really well. She’s a really good all-around swimmer, especially in the freestyle. Kalie will add a lot of depth to our middle-distance freestylers.”

Kirschtine Balbuena

Gainesville, Fla. | Bucholz High School

  • Junior national qualifier
  • Part of the quartet that holds the national ration in the 200m free relay and 400 yard free relay for the 15-18 age group
  • Swam for Gold Medal Club and Gator Swim Club
  • Helped Bucholz High School swim team obtain three straight state titles
  • HS All-American standard in the 200 IM, 100 free and 100 back
  • Helped Bucholz relay break state records in the 200 medley relay and the 400 free relay
  • Scholastic All-American
  • Member of both the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because of its academic prowess and its tradition of excellence in swimming. As a local swimmer, I have witnessed the support that coaches provide for the gators, as well as the distinct team culture that I’ve wanted to be a part of. I envision myself as a student-athlete here at UF and I’m glad that I made this choice.”
  • Troy on Kirschtine: “She adds to our local people who have had success here before. She is a very versatile athlete and a real team player. She is going to fill a void for us in the backstroke and we are always lucky to have someone come from Gator Swim Club.

Celismar Guzman

Dover, Fla. | Strawberry Crest High School

  • Member of the Puerto Rican National Team
  • U.S. Open Qualifier – 100 backstroke
  • Competed at CCCAN 2017 for the Puerto Rican National Team
  • Swims for Tampa Bay Aquatics
  • Automatic All-American – 100 backstroke
  • Qualified for Scholastic All-American
  • Heart of Champions Award in high school
  • Competed at World Junior Nationals in Indianapolis
  • Why she chose UF: “I chose the University of Florida because it is a great program, academically and athletically. It also gives me the opportunity to complete my aspiration of being a veterinarian.”
  • Troy on Celismar: “She is one of the best high school swimmers in Florida. She is great in the backstroke and the butterfly, where we have been a little bit lacking lately. She is going to give us great depth in the backstroke and good speed in the butterfly.”

Press release courtesy of Florida Athletics. 

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Shannon Phifer
6 years ago

Go Leah!!!!! #yorkymcaswimfamily

Swimming Pool Lovers
6 years ago

What a turn up

Betsy Harrison
6 years ago

Hope it’s a loving, family style program. These kids/ young adults need it.

Jetzel Basabe Rodriguez

Johnny Annie Guzman

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