Texas A&M Signs Four

COLLEGE STATION, Texas, December 11. THE fifth-ranked Texas A&M women's swimming & diving team signed four swimmers to letters-of-intent during the early signing period this past month, head coach Steve Bultman announced on Monday.

Joining the A&M team in the fall of 2007 will be Melanie Dodds (Maple Ridge, B.C.), Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (San Antonio), Hannah Kinder (Cape Girardeau, Mo.), and Caroline Maxvill (Dallas).

Melanie Dodds is a senior at Walnut Grove High School in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. She has been swimming for the Langley Olympians, coached by Brian Metcalfe, for five years.

Dodds qualified for her first senior national team this past year, making it to the Pan Pacific Championships. She was a member of the 2006 Canadian Junior National Australian Tour Team and represented Canada at the 2006 FINA Youth World Championships as well. She is British Columbia's provincial record holder for the 15-17 age group in both the 200 (2:16.19) and 400 (4:46.35) individual medleys in short course meters. She also has a best of 2:15.15 in the 200-meter butterfly at the short course distance.

"I chose Texas A&M because of the team atmosphere created by both the coaches and the team members," Dodds said. "The idea of excellence everywhere draws you into the dream. It is an amazing place."

Dodds maintains an A average, has been on the honor roll four straight years and is bilingual in English and French. She was the highest ranked Spanish student in her school each of the past three years as well. Dodds won the silver medal at the 2005 Canadian Commonwealth Trials in the 400 IM as a junior and received a special invitation to the Canadian National Team's Road to Beijing camps in September 2005 and May 2006. Melanie is the daughter of Stephen and Sharon Dodds.

"I got to watch Melanie swim at Canadian senior nationals during the summer when I was up there with Julia (Wilkinson)," Bultman said. "She is a good competitor. She's a good solid 200/400 IM'er and also a good 200 flyer. I think she can definitely come in and help us immediately and fill some needs. She is somebody that has experienced making her country's senior national team for the first time this summer and she has goals to continue doing that."

Casey Hurrell-Zitelman is a senior at Taft High School in San Antonio, Texas. She swims currently for the Northside Alamo Area Aquatics Association and is coached by Bill Thomas. She has also been coached by George Block and Steve Gordon over the past four seasons.

Hurrell-Zitelman is a two-time National Interscholastic Swimming Coaches Association (NISCA) All-American in the 500 freestyle and has ranked among the top 20 nationally in her age group in both the 1,000 freestyle and the mile over the past few years. She is a multi-time district and regional champion in the 500-yard freestyle which is the longest distance swum at the high school level. She owns personal bests of 4:53.74 in the 500 free, 9:58.87 in the 1,000 free, and 16:32.76 in the mile.

"I chose Texas A&M because the team is like a family," Hurrell-Zitelman said. "The coaching and the athletic support staff are awesome. I love all of the spirit and traditions and I feel that I really fit in with the Aggie swim team. Also, I want to be a part of a team that is striving to achieve great things and I know that A&M's swimmers will strive to help each other accomplish great things."

Hurrell-Zitelman is the treasurer for the National Honor Society and also a member of the Spanish National Honor Society. She has qualified for the state meet in the 500-yard freestyle three times, finishing as high as fourth as a junior, as well as the 200 IM twice. She owns her high school records in the 200 breast, 200 fly, and 200, 500, 1,000, and 1,650 freestyles as well as her club records in the 200 breast, 1,000 free, and 1.650 free. Casey is the daughter of Ronnie Zitelman and Deborah Hurrell-Zitelman.

"Casey is somebody that we've been watching for a while," Bultman said. "She's been getting a little better each year. Then last spring at the sectional meet in our pool, she just had an outstanding meet, going out in the first 1,000 of the mile in 9:58 and qualifying for seniors (nationals) in both races. That definitely got our attention. We've gotten to know her well and really like what we see in her out of the pool too. She can step in and definitely help us in the distance events."

Hannah Kinder is a senior at Cape Central High School in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Her high school coach is Dayna Powell and her club coach is Steve Franklin of the Cape Girardeau Gators.

Kinder is a NISCA All-American in both the 50 and 100-yard freestyles. She finished third at state in both the 50 and 100 as a sophomore and improved to second in both races as a junior. She is her high school and club team MVP. She currently has personal bests of 23.71 in the 50 free, 51.32 in the 100 free, and 1:51.95 in the 200 free.

"I chose Texas A&M because both Coach Bultman and Coach Duchac were both laid back and down-to-earth, but definitely knew what they were doing," Kinder said. "The team got along better than any of the other teams I visited. The combination was a good fit for me. Their girls have had amazing improvements starting their freshman year. Plus I've always wanted to go to school in Texas!"

Kinder is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the A honor roll all four years. She owns her high school records in the 50, 100 and 200-yard freestyles and the 100-yard backstroke.

"Hannah is somebody that we just found out about at the end of the summer," Bultman said. "She hasn't been training year-round for very long. We feel like she has got an outstanding future ahead of her. She is excited about her swimming. I feel like she can continue to make some great strides with us."

Caroline Maxvill is a senior at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson, Texas. Her high school coach is Jeff Clayton and has been swimming for Brent Mitchell of Metroplex Aquatics since April.

Maxvill is a five-time NISCA All-American and was named first team all-state each of the past three seasons. She is an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200 breaststroke and made the Texas 5A state final in the both the 100 breast and 200 IM in 2006. She currently holds lifetime bests of 1:03.62 in the 100 breast, 2:19.34 in the 200 breast, and 2:06.39 in the 200 IM.

"I chose A&M because I loved the team, the coaches, and the tradition of the school," Maxvill said.

Maxvill is a two-time Scholastic All-American and a member of the J.J. Pearce National Honor Society. She holds her high school's record in the 100 breast and was the 2005 Regional Female Swimmer of the Year. Caroline is the daughter of Bill and Jane Maxvill.

"Caroline is someone that we have known about and watched for a while, since she used to swim on the same club team as (A&M 200 breast record holder) Erin Briskie," Bultman said. "She's been to A&M a bunch for our club meets and knows a lot about us. She had an outstanding summer, qualifying for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the 200-meter breaststroke. We feel like she can definitely come in and help us out and continue to improve like she did this past summer.

"It's going to be exciting to have all four of these young ladies join us in the fall," Bultman said. "They fill our needs and will all be able to step in and help us next year."