July 2, 2011
By Jon Cooper
It’s not a stretch to say that the Georgia Tech Men’s Swimming program is in uncharted waters when grouped with national powers like Stanford, California, Ohio State, Texas and Florida and even with ACC powerhouses Virginia, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
Those days may soon be over thanks to a recruiting class that is off the charts.
According to CollegeSwimming.com, the Yellow Jackets had the sixth-best incoming recruiting class in the nation and was the best in the ACC.
“I have to give a lot of the credit to my entire staff,” said Men’s and Women’s Swimming Coach Courtney Shealy Hart. “We worked really hard this year and put together a great incoming class. I knew we were a top-20 class in the country and [CollegeSwimming.com] came up and said we were top-6, which exceeded my expectations.”
Hart’s staff searched high and low for recruits and came up with nine signees coming from as far north as West Chester, Pa. (top recruit, Andrew Kosic), as far west as Edmond, Okla. (Wilson Wei), and as far away as Basserdorf, Switzerland (Nico Van Duijn) and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (Andrew Chetcuti).
“We do a lot of research internationally,” said Hart. “Obviously, having the Internet and access to all the meets internationally, we look at that. Then we also have some connections internationally through the swimming world. Swimming is not such a big sport that we don’t know people all over the country, so I will definitely give 100 percent of the credit to my assistant Chris DeSantis, who does a lot of our International recruiting.”
Hart also signed four local swimmers — John Beall, of Peachtree City, Dylan Kase and Elliott Brockelbank of Alpharetta, Kristopher Bryant of Kingston — and even one from enemy territory, in Mark Sarman from Ashburn, Va. Hart stated that local and especially in-state talent is an important facet of her recruiting.
“That was one of my big things when I was hired as head coach two years ago was to make a push locally,” she said. “We have some great swimmers right here in the state and I’d like to keep them here and continue to represent the state of Georgia but Georgia Tech.”
Among the top recruits are Kosic, an NISCA High School All-American, whose best event is the 100 fly, but is versatile enough to swim in all four pursuits and the IM, Van Duijn, who has swam internationally and whose 200 Butterfly times are faster than any incoming ACC freshmen, and Chetcuti, a freestyle and butterfly sprint specialist, whose 100 free times would qualify for U.S. Nationals. But Hart isn’t limiting her expectations of freshman contributions and expects the incoming class to push those already on campus.
“This class will contribute right away,” she said. “I actually sent out an e-mail to the entire men’s team saying congratulations, because they’re the ones who also help in this recruiting process. They have created a team that people want to be a part of. That’s a big factor when someone’s making a decision where to go to school. So I give a lot of credit to our current men’s team for doing a good job in the pool but also doing a good job in the recruiting process.”
Hart also credits the campus for selling itself — she especially pointed to Kosic, who was swayed to come to Atlanta from Pennsylvania after his visit.
Then there is the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center.
With a world-class facility, Georgia Tech is getting the opportunity to host more and more prestigious events, featuring some of the world’s best junior swimmers. In a recruiting context, that amounts to bringing the mountain to Muhammad.
“Luckily for us, Junior Nationals have been held in our pool so we don’t have to travel but we’ve been able to see that meet,” she said. “Y Nationals is actually going to be at Georgia Tech, which is another great meet, Short-Course Nationals will be here as well. Long-course Nationals are in December because it’s an Olympic year but we’re hosting that as well. So the Georgia Tech pool is actually hosting a lot of the big meets that we would travel to. So not only do we as coaches get to see the athletes swim, but they also get to be on our campus and swim in our pool.”
Hart sees nothing but good things ahead for the program.
“I think all these people, along with our current student-athletes are going to help make a push for a top-three [finish] in the ACC,” she said. “Whether that happens immediately, that’s yet to be seen but I think that’s definitely a goal and if we continue to bring in classes like this and develop our current student-athletes and our incoming student-athletes, we’re definitely moving in that direction.”