Cultivating culture: swimming and diving signs five
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Replacing a massive nine-person senior class in charge of shaping team culture and values is no easy task, but Kansas Swimming and Diving coaches Clark Campbell and Jen Betz have done their best, searching far and wide for the next group of leaders in the pool. Campbell’s five-member signing class hails from three different states as well as the Netherlands. The domestic class includes three top-five recruits within their states and a rising star on the Dutch national scene.
Swimmers Crissie Blomquist (Fairway, Kan.), Ellie Flanagan (Columbia, Mo.), Manon Manning (Netherlands), Lauryn Parrish (Fishers, Ind.) and Caroline Schultz (Carmel, Ind.) signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) to continue their education and athletic careers as Kansas Jayhawks.
“This class is very good as far as being good students and athletes, but they also really fit our culture,” Campbell said. “We recruit the culture almost as much as we recruit the talent, if not more so. They’re going to be excellent fits for the program. They came in for their official visits and meshed well with the team. We know what they’re about and they know what we’re about, and we’re looking forward to each and every one of them.”
BlomquistCrissie Blomquistis a member of the defending Kansas 6A State Champion Shawnee Mission East High School team. She contributed to the team title with individual golds in the 200 and 500 freestyle and swam legs on the champion 200 and 400 freestyle relays. The two-time USA Swimming Scholastic All-American’s top times in the 200, 500 and 1650 freestyle would have garnered her three top-10 finishes in last year’s Big 12 Championship. Kansas’ second-ranked recruit, according to CollegeSwimming.com, Blomquist’s presence will immediately be felt in the freestyle, where she has the ability to score in all distances.
“It seems like I’ve been watching Crissie swim ever since she moved here from Arizona,” Campbell reflected. “She swims the same events as my daughter Cierra and they’ve had a lot of head-to-head battles through the years, and I’ve got to watch her race quite a bit. You love the way that she swims; her club coach, Bobby Mattin has done really good work with her. She swims for Empire KC Swim Club and Shawnee Mission East. Her high school coach, Rob Cole, is someone I competed with many years ago. He has done a really good job with her. She will come in and make everything from the 200 to the mile better for us. She’s a hard worker, a great kid and can race. We’re looking forward to getting to work with her.”
Ellie FlanaganFifth-ranked Missouri recruit Flanagan will chalk up points for Kansas in the butterfly, breaststroke and individual medley events. She swam the butterfly leg of the 2016 Missouri Girls High School State champion 200 medley relay and added two top-four finishes in the 100 butterfly and 500 freestyle. The versatile Flanagan also flourishes in the classroom, twice being named to the USA Swimming Scholastic All-America Team.
“Ellie’s done a marvelous job and improved every year,” remarked Campbell. “She’ll come in and help us in areas we’re going to need shored up right away. We have some folks graduating, like Gretchen Pocisk, and our flyers. Ellie is very versatile; this weekend she had a great 1,000 free, I didn’t have any idea she was a 1,000 freestyler. She will come in and do fly, breast and 400 IM. She will come in and be scoring at Big 12s right away and be making us better in her events.”
Manon ManningCampbell’s first opportunity to coach a Dutch swimmer will be a good one, as Manning has established herself as someone to keep tabs on in the Dutch national swimming program. Manning is fresh off of a promising showing at the Open Dutch Short Course Championships, where she qualified for the A heat of all three (50, 100 and 200-meter) backstroke events.
“She is going to be really good,” stated Campbell. “She is coming off of Dutch nationals this past weekend for short-course meters. She is very young, she just turned 17, so she will be coming in here as one of our youngest international student-athletes that we’ve ever had. Usually they come at 19 out of high school or they’ve done a year in college. For an international student-athlete, she’s really young. This past weekend she made three A finals in the Dutch national championships in the backstroke and made some B finals in the freestyle and butterfly. She is somebody that is just at the tip of her iceberg. I’ve been watching her results for a while and a lot of tape on her. Her and her dad came over, I got to meet them personally and she got to hangout with the team. It’s going to be an excellent fit and she is somebody I can see representing the Netherlands in Tokyo in 2020, she has that kind of ability. Getting her here, in our system, is going to bring out the best in her and the sky is the limit for Manon.”
Lauryn ParrishParrish, a Fishers High School product, will be an instant source of points for Kansas. Her top times in the 100 and 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke would have been good enough for three top-eight finishes at last year’s Big 12 Championship. Parrish placed in the top-six twice at the 2016 Indiana Girls High School State Championship for the 100 and 200 freestyle.
“We’re real excited about Lauryn,” Campbell said. “She is somebody that coach Jen and I have been working on for a while. She’s coming in as an Olympic Trials qualifier in the 200 backstroke, she’s really fast in the freestyles and is somebody that will come in and contend for Big 12 championships and qualifying for NCAAs right off the bat. She’s, like Caroline, from Indiana, which is a really good swimming state. She’s used to competing against really fast competition. The transition for Indiana kids seems to be a little bit easier because they are more exposed to fast swimming all the time. We are absolutely pleased as punch with Lauryn’s commitment. She will bring a lot to the team; not only in the pool, she’s a great culture kid and will add so much to the program. She’s got a real vibrant personality and already bleeds Crimson and Blue. She’s going to be a really proud Jayhawk.”
Caroline SchultzFor the second-straight year Kansas will tap into the Carmel, Indiana pipeline, signing Schultz, a former teammate of freshman Katy Schlies. The freestyle and butterfly swimmer recorded a fourth-place finish at the 2016 Indiana Girls High School State Championship for the 100 butterfly en route to a championship for her Carmel High School squad.
“She comes from Carmel Swim Club with Chris Plumb,” said Campbell. “A teammate of Katy Schlies, we definitely watched her progress because when we were recruiting Katy we got to figure out some kids on the club team. She has really improved a lot with Chris and CSC. What we like about the Carmel kids is they know what a good culture is and what a good team is all about. Katy has been a boon for that this year and has added a lot to our culture. Caroline will do the same thing. Caroline has tremendous upside. She is used to high-level competition and she will be ready to go the moment she steps on campus.”
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