Nov. 29, 2006

Morgan Farrell

Sarah Sargent

Tricia Weaner

Jodie McGroarty

Jill Pierce

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee Swimming Head Coach Matt Kredich and Head Diving Coach Dave Parrington have announced the signing of six athletes to National Letters of Intent. Swimmers Aleksa Akerfelds, Morgan Farrell, Sarah Sargent and Tricia Weaner, along with divers Jodie McGroarty and Jill Pierce, will be added to the Lady Vol roster for the 2007-08 season.

"These four swimmers cover a number of events for us, and they are powerful, versatile, and experienced," Kredich said. "All four are committed to academic excellence and have high goals and standards for themselves in the classroom. Each of these athletes has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for what we are doing as a program, and they already share the vision of the swimmers and coaches at Tennessee.

"I am also very excited about each of the families that we are bringing into our team," Kredich said. "They are all fully invested in the University of Tennessee as a place to learn and grow over the next four years."

Akerfelds hails from Bronxville High School in Bronxville, N.Y., where she was a five-time All-American, three times in the 200y IM and twice in the 500y freestyle. She is the state record holder in the 200y IM, a feat she accomplished in 2004 and again in 2006. She helped lead Bronxville High School to titles in the state high school Section I Championships from 2002-04. She was also the team MVP each year from 2003-05. Highlighting many awards Akerfelds won as a member of the White Plains Middies, coached by Ilan Noach, is the High Point Award she earned at the National Club Swimming Association's Junior National Championships in 2004.

"Aleksa is very good at a number of events, as evidenced by the fact that she was the high point winner at the USA Junior National Championships in 2004," Kredich said. "We expect her to have an immediate impact in the conference in the 400y IM and 500y Free, but her range goes well beyond those events."

A five-time All-American from Pensacola, Fla., Farrell was named the 2005 Florida Class 2A Swimmer of the Year and the Northwest Florida High School Swimmer of the Year each season from 2003-2005. She qualified for senior nationals in the 100y fly, 100y back, 200y free and 50y free, and attended the competition in 2004 and 2005. Farrell has posted three district records in the 100y fly, 50y free and 100y free events in her time at B.T. Washington High School. The scholastic All-American also competed in the World Championship Trials in 2005. She is a member of the Greater Pensacola Aquatic Club, coached by Joe Goeken.

"Morgan has been a national level competitor for several seasons now, and she just keeps getting better," Kredich said. "She has great speed and range in the freestyle, backstroke and butterfly events, and is a very good individual medley swimmer as well. Our biggest challenge with her is going to be choosing three events for her at our conference meet."

Sargent has earned numerous awards as a swimmer at Battle Ground Academy in Franklin, Tenn., and as a member of Excel Aquatics club team, headed by Mark Walker. She is a six-time All-American in the 50y free and 100y free and four-time state champion in each of those events. She notched eight Williamson County High School Championships, and eight Tennessee High School Regional Championships. Through her junior year at Battle Ground Academy, Sargent produced a total of 46 first-place finishes and two runner-up positions in high school competition. To date, the Franklin, Tenn., native has competed in six USA Swimming National Championships, five Junior National Championships and the U.S. Open.

"Sarah is one of the top senior sprinters in the country, and she happens to be a lifelong Tennessee fan," Kredich said. She has a great work ethic, a wealth of national level experience, and the kind of team-first mentality that is going to make her a great big-meet relay performer."

An 11-time YMCA National Champion, Weaner competed in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials and has qualified for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100m and 200m backstroke events. The Gettysburg, Pa., product notched six All-America awards and four state championships at Gettysburg Area High School. She is currently the state record holder in the 100y back and the YMCA National Record holder in the 100y, 200y, 100m and 200m backstroke events. In 2004, she was the U.S. Open Champion in the 200m back and a member of the U.S. National Junior Team. In the same year, she was ranked 89th in the world in the 100m back and 66th in the 200m. In addition to experience on the U.S. National Junior Team, she also competes for Coach Mike Gobrecht and the West Shore YMCA club team. To date, Weaner has qualified for U.S. Nationals in two events and the U.S. Open in seven events.

"Tricia has been one of the nation's top backstrokers for several years now, and we will look for her to help us continue a tradition of great backstrokers at UT," Kredich said. "Her international experience with the National Junior Team has allowed her to develop a clear vision of what she needs to do to reach her goals, which are very lofty. Tricia will be a big part of our team's Olympic Trials focus in 2008."

McGroarty, of Sheffield, England, has been competing for Great Britain in international competitions since 2003. In 2006, she was the National Age Group Champion in the one-meter, three-meter and three-meter synchronized diving. The same year she placed second in the three-meter synchronized diving and fourth from the three-meter board at the Senior Nationals. McGroarty, originally from Zimbabwe, finished in third place in the synchronized diving event at the 2006 World Junior Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 2005, McGroarty placed second from the one-meter board at Senior Nationals. She took part in the European Juniors competition in Germany in 2004 and finished fourth overall.

"We will be getting a very exciting talent in Jodie," Parrington said. "I am really excited about the potential that she brings. She's an extremely talented springboard diver with international experience, which will carry over very well into the collegiate ranks."

Pierce is an All-American hailing from Knoxville's South Doyle High School. She was named the Tennessee State Diver of the Year for the 2004-05 season and was the diving state champion in 2004 and 2005. In 2002, she competed in both the spring and summer sessions of national competition. Pierce has been a member of the Tennessee Dive Club of Knoxville for the past five years.

"Jill has spent her life learning to dive and competing here at the UT Student Aquatic Center as part of the club program," Parrington said. "She will bring depth and add an enormous amount of determination and a fantastic attitude that will affect the rest of the team."

The Lady Vol swimming and diving team will resume competition in January when Parrington takes the divers to Athens, Ga., for the Bulldog Diving Invitational, Jan. 3-5. The squad will then travel to Evanston, Ill., to square off against Northwestern.





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