Tulane Swimming Announces Early Signing Class

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NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane University women’s swimming and diving team added a quintet of incoming freshmen for the 2015-16 season as swimmers Natalie Clausen, Nina Gonzalez, Emily Ramier and Shelly Zelnick joined diver Caroline McCleary in signing National Letters of Intent with the Green Wave during the NCAA’s Early Signing Period.

The five signees will join the team next season as true freshman and each will have their full allotment of eligibility. The signing class will add to the talents of a team which is slated to return 16 letterwinners from the current roster.

“Each of these signees brings a strong, internal drive for improvement in the pool,” Tulane head coach Katie Robinson said. “Not only do their current times and scores place them in scoring positions at our American Athletic Conference, they come ready and willing to work with a focus on the details to swim faster and dive better. The end point for them was not to sign with a university, but to attend a university with a team where they would be pushed to reach even further than they’ve been. They have the opportunity here at Tulane to earn championship titles in their events at conference and truly put Tulane on the map for our sport.

“What’s even more exciting is that these women are not just fast swimmers and good divers – they are the whole package. They are intelligent, passionate, coachable and inspiring in their own ways. They have each mentioned their desire to continue our community service team commitment, which is a very selfless thing for women of their age and yet a big part of who we are as a team here at Tulane. We look to help these women grow and develop further through the lessons learned in swimming and diving as they become influential women in society.”

Clausen – who prepped at Waukesha South High School and swam for the Waukesha Express in Wisconsin before moving to Florida for her senior season – holds top times of 4:26.58 in the 400 IM, 4:51.49 in the 500 free, 10:01.90 in the 1000 free and 16:39.69 in the 1650 free, and her time in the mile would rank among the American Athletic Conference leaders.

After helping Waukesha South win state titles as a freshman, sophomore and junior, Clausen was instrumental in guiding East Lake High to the Florida 4A title on Wednesday. In that meet, she helped the 200 and 400 free relay teams emerge victorious as ELHS outdistanced Olympia High, 257-200, for the championship crown.
Clausen was runner-up in the Wisconsin Division I High School championship meet in the 500 free as a junior and was third in the event as a sophomore.

“We were able to connect really well with her and share all of the great things we can offer her as a University in the South,” Robinson said. “She really clicked with us well, came in for a visit fell in love with Tulane. We share that feeling right with her. She comes from very good programs, both in Wisconsin and now in Florida, with very well established coaches and very well established teams. She’s going to be a huge dynamic in the American Athletic Conference and her times in the mile would put her at the top of the conference, which is exactly what we need to see.”

Gonzalez hails from El Paso, Texas, where has been a standout performer at Franklin High School and for the West Texas Typhoons while posting top times of 52.75 in the 100 free, 1:52.42 in the 200 free, 5:00.02 in the 500 free, 57.37 in the 100 fly and 2:05.68 in the 200 fly.

She set the school record in the 100 fly as a senior and won both the 200 and 500 free as well as helping the 200 and 400 free relay units emerge victorious at the District 1-5A meet as a junior. Both of the relay marks qualified for the state championship. Gonzalez was also named a USA Swimming Scholastic All-American for her academic performance.

“Nina is a bright young lady and we’re excited to add her to the mix as well,” Robinson said. “She’s got some power in the sprint and she can swim all the way up to the 500 as well. Her fly has really come along, especially this last summer, so we’re looking use her both in the freestyle and the fly events. Her spirit for Tulane is definitely noticeable and she is someone who fell in love with the school as well when she visited.”

Zelnick comes to Tulane from Troy, Ohio where she was a standout performer for Troy High School and the Dayton Raiders where she posted top times of 1:50.47 in the 200 free, 4:56.38 in the 500 free, 10:07.85 in the 1000 free, 56.44 in the 100 back, 2:00.39 in the 200 back, 2:03.53 in the 200 IM and 4:23.13 in the 400 IM.

Along the way, she was named Greater Western Ohio Conference Swimmer of the Meet and Swimmer of the Year in each of her final three prep seasons and was tabbed Troy High’s MVP each year. Zelnick earned first-team All-GWOC honors in the 200 medley relay, 200 IM, 100 back and 400 free relay, holds eight age-group records with the Greater Dayton Swimming Association and seven age-group records with the Dayton Raiders.

In addition to her accomplishments in the pool, Zelnick was named a 2014 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American for her performance in the classroom.

“Shelly is a great recruit of ours that we’re excited to add to the mix,” Robinson said. “She’s strong in the IM, also strong in the backstroke and can swim a very good 200 freestyle as well. She’s so versatile and we’re so excited to have an athlete that can do so many events so well. Props to her coaches who have been able to train her on such a wide variety and be successful in all of those.”

Tulane’s final swimming signee hails from The Great White North as Ramier swam for the Oakville Aquatic Club in Ontario, Canada where she posted top short-course meter times of 2:33.14 in the 200 breast, 2:18.57 in the 200 IM, 4:47.16 in the 400 IM and 4:25.57 in the 400 free.

Ramier won the bronze medal at Canada’s age-group national championship in 400 IM with a 5:11.43 in 2012 and helped the team finish fourth at provincial age group championship in 2013 when she claimed silver and bronze medals. In addition, she helped Oakville finish second at the 2012 Canadian Summer Nationals Senior Meet in Edmonton and the program’s first-ever 2012 Canadian Age-Group Championship in Calgary, and earned five gold medals at the Oakville Aquatic Club’s 25th Annual Oakville Invitational in 2012 – winning the 14-year-old girls’ 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter breast as well as the 200 meter and 400 meter IMs.

“She’s a 400 IMer, a 200 IMer and she also very strong in the 200 breaststroke,” Robinson said. “Her best times are from her short-course meter times in Canada, so that gives me a lot of belief that she’s going to be great when she transitions to the short-course yard pool, which is what we train in and compete in in the NCAA meets and such. Her time in the 400 IM is very good and I can’t wait to train her.”

McCleary, meanwhile, joins the Green Wave divers from McLean, Va., where she starred for McClean High School and the Oakton Cougars where she posted top scores of 423.75 in the one-meter springboard and 395.30 at the three-meter elevation and is a two-time Junior National qualifier.

During her prep and club careers, McCleary has claimed NISCA Diving All-America honors last season, earned a silver medal at the Virginia 6A Diving Championship as a junior and won the state title as a sophomore. In addition, McCleary won a gold medalist at the 2014 6A North Region and 6A Conference 6 Championship, and won the Liberty District Diving Championship and the NVSL All-Star Dive Meet in 2013.

McCleary was a 2013 Washington Post High School All-Met Swimming & Diving honorable-mention recipient and was named both MVP and Scholar-Athlete of the Year at McClean in each of her first three prep seasons. A competitive diver since she was seven, McCleary has been coaching since age 13 including the last two years with the Great Falls Rapids.

“She’s a two-time National Junior qualifier in the 16-18 age group so she is going to come in and add some significant quality and depth to an already pretty good team,” Tulane diving coach Chris Devine said. “She is an extremely hard worker based on talking to her coaches and some people in the diving world that I have known and trusted over time. She gets in there, she wants to get the job done and she’s also a very good competitor. She’ll definitely add some quality to our team.”

While Green Wave fans will have to wait until next fall to see the newcomers in action, the current Tulane team returns to action on Nov. 21, when they close out the fall portion of the schedule with the start of the Pearland (Texas) Invitational. The 2014-15 team’s next home meet is slated for Jan. 24 when the Wave play host to North Texas in the Reily Center. Prior to the start of that meet, Tulane will honor the senior class of Morgan Evans, Molly Jubas, Vanessa Loewen, Amy Needham, Claire Schelske, and Laura Turpen with a special ceremony and admission is free.

QUOTES ON TULANE SWIMMING & DIVING’S SIGNING CLASS

Tulane Head Coach Katie Robinson

On the overall signing class
“We’ve got five signees so far. Four of them are swimmers and one of them is a diver, and we’re really excited about the fresh, new blood that they’ll bring to the dynamic of our team. They’re very good, very established swimmers in the country and even have international experience. We’re looking for them to really help set us up to be really great in the near future.”

On Natalie Clausen
“Natalie is originally from Wisconsin but recently moved to Florida. We were able to connect really well with her and share all of the great things we can offer her as a University in the South. She really clicked with us well, came in for a visit fell in love with Tulane. We share that feeling right with her. She comes from very good programs, both in Wisconsin and now in Florida, with very well established coaches and very well established teams. She’s going to be a huge dynamic in the American Athletic Conference and her times in the mile would put her at the top of the conference, which is exactly what we need to see.”

On Nina Gonzalez
“Nina is a bright young lady and we’re excited to add her to the mix as well. She’s got some power in the sprint and she can swim all the way up to the 500 as well. Her fly has really come along, especially this last summer, so we’re looking use her both in the freestyle and the fly events. Her spirit for Tulane is definitely noticeable and she is someone who fell in love with the school as well when she visited. You could tell that just by the way she smiled when and talked about how awesome it would be to go to school here. We welcome her with arms wide open.”

On Shelly Zelnick
“Shelly is a great recruit of ours that we’re excited to add to the mix. She’s strong in the IM, also strong in the backstroke and can swim a very good 200 freestyle as well. She’s so versatile and we’re so excited to have an athlete that can do so many events so well. Props to her coaches who have been able to train her on such a wide variety and be successful in all of those.”

On Emily Ramier
“We’re excited about Emily, too. She’s a 400 IMer, a 200 IMer and she also very strong in the 200 breaststroke. Her best times are from her short-course meter times in Canada, so that gives me a lot of belief that she’s going to be great when she transitions to the short-course yard pool, which is what we train in and compete in in the NCAA meets and such. Her time in the 400 IM is very good and I can’t wait to train her.”

On how this class will blend with the team slated to return next year
“We’re losing a flyer, a backstroker and some breaststrokers. Basically, this team is going to develop very well in the near future with the addition of these five incoming freshmen. We’re going to be sad to lose the leadership of these seniors, but these girls coming in have great ability. They’ve got some shoes to fill, but I believe they’re going to do very well in their roles.

On the character of the signing class
“Each of these signees brings a strong, internal drive for improvement in the pool. Not only do their current times and scores place them in scoring positions at our American Athletic Conference, they come ready and willing to work with a focus on the details to swim faster and dive better. The end point for them was not to sign with a university, but to attend a university with a team where they would be pushed to reach even further than they’ve been. They have the opportunity here at Tulane to earn championship titles in their events at conference and truly put Tulane on the map for our sport. What’s even more exciting is that these women are not just fast swimmers – they are the whole package. They are intelligent, passionate, coachable and inspiring in their own ways. They have each mentioned their desire to continue our community service team commitment, which is a very selfless thing for women of their age and yet a big part of who we are as a team here at Tulane. We look to help these women grow and develop further through the lessons learned in swimming as they become influential women in society.”

Tulane Diving Coach Chris Devine

On Caroline McCleary
“She’s a two-time National Junior qualifier in the 16-18 age group so she is going to come in and add some significant quality and depth to an already pretty good team. She is an extremely hard worker based on talking to her coaches and some people in the diving world that I have known and trusted over time. She gets in there, she wants to get the job done and she’s also a very good competitor. She’ll definitely add some quality to our team.”

On how McCleary will blend with the divers slated to return next season
“What’s really exciting is the level that Caroline is diving at right now is not quite to the level of Lauren [Arnold] and Maren [Kjell], but she’s right there. Having her as a freshman come in and compete with them on a daily basis is going to help push them in their final year here. Having two seniors is nice. They know the system, obviously, well enough after being here going on two and a half years now and that will help bring Caroline along. Year by year, we try and bring in the same level of talent or better in order to push the current student-athletes and to just build the program.”

On the building process of the Tulane diving program
“It’s 10 years in the past, but Katrina did a number on this program’s ability to continue to get bigger and bigger. I’m going to try and continue to get more numbers in here, get more high-quality numbers. Probably six is the size team we’re looking to get. Whether that happens this year or in the coming years remains to be seen, but with my history, where I come from and my background as a world-level athlete I want to make this program get as close to that as we possibly can.”

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World. To reach our audience, contact us at newsmaster@swimmingworldmagazine.com.

 

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Author: Jason Marsteller

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Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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