Nov. 20, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt swimming head coach Jeremy Organ announced the signing of six swimmers to a National Letter of Intent on Tuesday during the early signing period.
Kathryn Babbin, Carrie Bencic, Alexandra Blankenburg, Kathryn Coughlin, Olivia Leunis and Kayla Moran all signed their National Letter of Intent to join the Vanderbilt women’s swimming team for the 2013-14 season.
“We’re really excited about this signing class,” Coach Organ said. “Angie (Nicolletta, assistant coach) really worked hard on this class. With her coming in July, she really hit the floor running and did a good job putting everything together. We feel like we were able to fill a lot of needs and really have a great class.”
Babbin, a native of Hudson, Ohio, will join Coach Organ and the Commodores in the fall of 2013. Babbin, a senior at Western Reserve Academy, has been a two-time Scholastic All-American (2011, 2012) and was named MVP of her high school swim team the last two years. As a sophomore and junior she swam at the Open Water Nationals. She is also a member of the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins club swimming team, which is coached by Jerry Holtrey. Babbin is also the editor of her school’s yearbook and enjoys photography.
“She is going to come in as a distance freestyle-type swimmer,” said Organ. “She has been making some really big gains in the past year and we feel like she is going to have a big year this year, as well. She is going to help fill some holes after this year’s senior class leaves, so we’re looking forward to her making a big impact in the distance freestyle events.”
Bencic will join the Commodores after a highly decorated career at the Hawken School. The Highland Heights, Ohio, native is also a member of the Lake Erie Silver Dolphins club swim team under the direction of Holtrey. Bencic is a national and junior national meet qualifier in the freestyle and butterfly events. She is a two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American and a six-time Ohio State Champion in the 200 free, 500 free and four relay events. In 2011-12, Bencic was named the Cleveland Plain Dealer Swimmer of the Year. Through her first three years of high school, she has helped lead her swim team to three-straight Ohio Division II State Championships. Outside of the pool, Bencic is active in organizations such as Relay for Life, Susan G. Komen Foundation and Special Olympics.
“We’re really excited about the whole class, but Carrie is a big part,” Organ said. “She has a lot of versatility. She comes from the same club as Kathryn Babbin and she is going to be able to compete in the freestyle and butterfly, and probably a lot of other events as well. She is a really great kid, a hard worker and will be a lot of fun to have next year.”
Blankenburg will venture to Nashville in 2013 from Rochester, Mich. A senior at the Roeper School, Blankenburg is a two-time Scholastic All-American. In 2012, she was a U.S. Olympic Trial qualifier in the 200m fly. Blankenburg is also a member of the Oakland Live Y’ers club swim team under head coach Jeff Cooper. When she is not swimming, Blankenburg enjoys listening to music and watching “How I Met Your Mother.”
“Alex is another one of the big pieces to the puzzle for us,” Organ said. “She swam at the Olympic Trials this past summer. She is a 200 butterfly and 400 IM specialist and comes out of a great club program, the Oakland Live Y’ers. We’re really looking forward to her being here and she will help the team get to the next level.”
Coughlin, a Fayetteville, N.Y., native was named a Scholastic All-American during her sophomore and junior years, while earning Athletic All-American honors as junior as well. Coughlin, who attends Christian Brothers Academy, swims the 100 and 200 breaststroke, as well as the 200 individual medley. She also swims for the Syracuse Chargers swim club, under Will Chidsey and Adam Zackowski.
“Kathryn is coming in as a breaststroker and IM, but I think she will be able to compete in some other events,” Organ said. “She has really good versatility and is going to be able to make contributions to the team in a lot of different events.”
Leunis, a senior at Darien High School, will travel south from her hometown of Darien, Conn., to join the Commodores swim program in 2013. Leunis holds her high school’s record in the 100 breast and 200 IM relay, along with the 200 medley relay. She also swims for the New Canaan YMCA Caimans swim club, under coach Doc Ludemann. One of Leunis’ goals is to be a part of the Switzerland National Team by the end of her senior year. Outside of the pool, Leunis enjoys playing the cello, piano and flute, while also being an avid skier and horseback rider. At Vanderbilt, Leunis would like to study business and foreign policy.
“Olivia is going to come in and really help with our breaststroke core and give us some depth in that event,” Organ said. “We really enjoyed her when we finally got to meet her, so we’re looking forward to her making a big impact on the team next year.”
Moran, a senior at Lyman High School, will come to Vanderbilt from her hometown of Longwood, Fla. Moran also swims for the Patriot Aquatics club team under head coach Clay Parnell. Outside of the pool, Moran is the secretary of her National Honors Society and enjoys teaching swimming lessons. She hopes to pursue a degree in the medical field.
“We’re really excited about Kayla coming in next year,” Organ explained. “She just recently won the Florida High School state meet in the 100 butterfly. She is one of the key pieces to this class. She is a really competitive kid and will be big for us.”