Nov. 15, 2012
ATHENS, Ga. --- Three of the country's top swimming prospects have signed national letters of intent with Georgia, according to an announcement on Thursday by Coach Jack Bauerle.
Olivia Smoliga of Illinois, Pace Clark of Tennessee and Chris Powell of Georgia will enroll at UGA for the 2013-14 season.
Smoliga swims for coaches Steve Iida and Kelly Timson for Glenview (Ill.) High and Glenview Titan Aquatic Club, respectively. She is the nation's top-ranked prospect in the 50-meter freestyle, the No. 2 recruit in the 100-meter backstroke, and the No. 4 prospect in the 100-meter freestyle. A High School All-American, Smoliga ranked third in the 50-meter freestyle and ninth in the 100-meter backstroke in the world among 17-year-olds last year.
"She's sort of a newcomer on the scene, but she's definitely a key player as far as the relays, the sprint free and the back, and that's tremendously important for scoring at the NCAAs," Bauerle said. "Olivia brings a lot to the table. She has great starts and turns, she has great enthusiasm and spirit, and she's extremely competitive."
Clark attends Memphis (Tenn.) University School, competes for Memphis Tiger Swimming and is coached by Louis Demetriades. Clark is the No. 2-ranked prospect in Tennessee and the No. 7-ranked recruit nationally in the 100-meter butterfly. A High School All-American and Olympic Trials qualifier, he also is ranked 15th nationally in the 200-meter butterfly.
"He's very, very similar in body shape and stroke technique to Gil Stovall (another Memphis native who won the NCAA title in the 200-yard butterfly in 2008)," Bauerle said. "Pace has great technique and a great feel for the water. He's got a lot of growing to do, but he's going to be a key player the next four years in the butterfly and in the 500 freestyle."
Powell, a native of Hoschton, attends Mill Creek High School and is coached by Rick Creed. Powell also swims for Athens Bulldog Swim Club under Coach Harvey Humphries. Powell is the state's top-rated sprinter and is nationally ranked in the 50-yard and 100-meter freestyle. He is a two-time High School All-American.
"Chris is a late bloomer as he's only been swimming year-round for three or four years," Bauerle said. "But he's already risen to being the top sprint free recruit in the state. He's an enthusiastic young man and he's the kind of person who makes a great teammate. He's going to be a great addition to our sprint group, and he's just what we need to bring us up to another level."