Kansas Swimming and Diving Signs Five for 2015-16

LAWRENCE, Kan. – On the heels of four straight dual meet victories, including a photo-finish win last weekend against Illinois, the Kansas swimming and diving team continued celebrating Thursday when head coach Clark Campbell announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent (NLI).

With the water still rippling in Robinson Natatorium from Saturday’s final race, Campbell bolstered his 2015-16 squad by adding Breonna Barker (Broken Arrow, Oklahoma), Haley Bishop (Apex, North Carolina), Cassaundra Pino (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Taylor Sieperda (Spirit Lake, Iowa) and Libby Walker (Columbia, Missouri).

“(Kansas assistant coach) Jen Fox, our recruiting coordinator, has done a fantastic job – this class is really going to help us,” an excited Campbell said. “We couldn’t be more ecstatic with all five of our signees. They’re going to come in and make an immediate impact for dual meets, but most importantly, in Big 12 Championships. I see a few of these girls making the NCAA Championship meet. Today is a day we got better.”

Barker has owned the freestyle sprints at the Oklahoma Swimming State Championships, winning the 100-yard freestyle in each of her first three seasons and claiming the 50-yard freestyle title the last two years. A school record holder in the 50 and 100 free at Broken Arrow High School, Barker swims for the Swim Tulsa club team under the direction of David Lynn and is favored to four-peat in the 100 at the state meet at the end of February.

The top-ranked recruit in the state of Oklahoma according to CollegeSwimming.com, Barker is a Junior National Qualifier and attended the 2011 USA Swimming Diversity Select Camp. Additionally, as a top student, she’s a member of the National Honor Society.

“Breonna is one of the most accomplished sprinters in the Midwest,” Campbell said. “She’s going to come in and make an immediate impact in our sprint free events. We cannot be any more excited about getting Breonna and she’s going to not only going to help the sprint areas, but also relays.”

Bishop will compete at the 2014 USA Winter Nationals after swimming at last year’s summer and winter nationals events. A product of Panther Creek High School and club team YOTA under coach Chad Onken, Bishop is a three-time conference champion in the 50-yard freestyle and has been an all-state selection for three years in the 50 free and 100-yard butterfly.

A multiple event finalist in short-course and long-course at the YMCA Nationals the last two years, Bishop also excels in the classroom, earning scholastic all-America honors as a sophomore and junior in high school.  

“With Deanna Marks graduating, we’re looking for someone to come in and help specifically with the butterfly, and Haley not only does that, but she does sprint free,” Campbell said. “She’s going to be able to help our relays, help us in two strokes, and we’re very excited that she’s coming. She comes from a really good team.”

Pino, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, owns the state high school record in the 100-yard butterfly and has won three-straight state championships in the event. A USA Winter Nationals qualifier, Pino is the No. 2 swimming recruit from the state of New Mexico and swims with the Lobo Aquatic Club under Doug Forbes.

“She’s one of the top swimmers in the Southwest, and not only does she do butterfly, but she also does middle-distance free,” Campbell said. “She’s going to help in that area and in the relays. Like Breonna and Haley, she’s qualified for Winter Nationals and they’re going to come in and make a big impact with us.”

The No. 8 prospect in the state of Iowa according to CollegeSwimming.com, Sieperda helped the Spencer High School team set a school record in the 200-yard medley relay last weekend while breaking the 100-yard backstroke also at the Iowa swimming state championships. Sieperda also finaled in the 50-yard freestyle. Sieperda was a four-time state qualifier for the Tigers and also swam for the Greater Nebraska Swim Team under coach Cal Bentz.

“She’s an iceberg,” Campbell said. “She’s got a little bit hanging out of the water right now, but underneath the surface there’s a lot of potential there, and so we’re really excited to see how she develops over her four years at KU.”

Walker is the top-ranked swimming recruit in the state of Missouri according to CollegeSwimming.com, and like a trio of her fellow signees has qualified for the Winter Nationals. A distance swimmer who competed for Hickman High School and the Columbia Swim Club under Gary Galbreath, Walker is a two-time sectional champion in the 1650 and a three-time distance high-point winner at the sectional meet.

“Libby, like Breonna, is one of the top swimmers in our area,” Campbell said. “She’s more on the distance side of things. She’s almost a clone of Chelsie Miller. She swims the distance free, swims the longer butterfly, swims the individual medleys. With Chelsie graduating in two years, we’re ecstatic that Libby’s going to have the ability to come and train with her for a year and help us with the transition once Chelsie graduates. Libby is really strong.”

The Jayhawks have just two seniors on the 2014-15 squad in Marks and Caroline Patterson and are already seeing contributions from nine freshmen. Hannah Driscoll, Sydney Power and Madison Straight all won individual events as Kansas topped Illinois at Robinson Natatorium last Saturday.

Kansas closed its fall dual slate with a 4-1 record, avenging 2013 losses against Big 12 foe TCU and the Fighting Illini, and turns its focus to hosting the Kansas Classic, a championship-style meet, at Capitol Federal Natatorium in Topeka, Nov. 21-23.

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