Aug. 18, 2008
The summer of 2008 has been an active one for the Clemson Swimming and Diving program. The Tigers have added two new staff members, sent several athletes to Olympic Trials in three different countries, and brought in one of the nation’s best signing classes.
Head Coach Christopher Ip and his staff have been hard at work preparing both squads for the ACC in 2008-09 and wrapping up a star-studded incoming freshman class that includes two Olympic Trial participants.
Tigers at Olympic TrialsThe Clemson Swimming brand has been all over the map in recent months with student-athletes competing for a chance to represent their various countries.
In the United States, departed seniors Matt Balderston and Stephen Russell competed in the 50 free and 100 fly, respectively. Balderston, a former walk-on, ended his career as a top-50 swimmer in his event in the nation. Russell was also a top-50 national performer during his event, which was won by Michael Phelps.
Incoming freshman Maddie Tarantolo moved up nearly 25 spots in her national ranking in the 100 fly, coming in at 62nd in that event at Olympic Trials. The Austin, TX native will try to compete for points for the Tigers right away.
Michelle Parkhurst, Rachel Regone, and Tom Recko rounded out the Clemson contingent at US Olympic trials. Parkhurst, the ACC Swimmer of the Meet, had a busy week in Omaha competing in the 100 back and 200 free. She finished 47th in the back event with a lifetime best and improved her national ranking by 20 spots to finish 62nd overall. She was the ACC Champion in both events and an All-American in the 200 free.
Regone competed in the 50 free, finishing 56th. She was the silver medalist in the ACC and finished in the top 25 in the NCAA. Recko competed in the 200 back, finishing 48th in the nation behind such competitors as Ryan Lochte and Aaron Peirsol.
Junior Katrina Obas competed for a spot on Canada’s Olympic team in the 200 IM, 100 breast, and 200 breast. Obas remarkably finished in the Top-25 in the nation in the 200 IM, taking 23rd, and placed 30th in the nation in the 200 breast. She also picked up a top-50 ranking in the 100 breast, finishing 43rd.
Incoming Freshman Chris Dart, born in England, competed for a spot for Great Britain’s squad and came very close to an Olympic bid, taking eighth in the nation in the 100 back. The freshman will be expected to contribute right away in both backstroke events as well as the 200 IM.
New Staff AdditionsThe Tigers have added two new full-time staff members for the 2008-09 season. Ron Turner and Mallory Pucci will be integral to the Tigers progression in the ACC.
Turner comes to Clemson with several years of experience under his belt from the youth club level up to US national teams. He has NCAA experience with the University of Tennessee and Indiana University. He has coached at some of the nation’s most elite club programs, including Novaquatics in California that has churned out gold medalists Amanda Beard and Aaron Peirsol.
Pucci joins the staff fresh out of school having just graduated from George Mason University in Virginia. She has extensive club experience and spent her final semester of school as an intern with Club Wolverine, for whom Michael Phelps competes. She also had an extensive internship with USA Swimming at the U.S. Olympic Training Center working with some of the world’s most innovative equipment for learning more about athlete’s performance.
Both additions will allow more one-on-one time with athletes as well as an even more specialized approach to coaching, in addition to aiding students with their academic goals.
Incoming FreshmenThe Swimming and Diving team lost 18 student-athletes to graduation from the 2007-08 season, including several ACC scorers. Ip and his staff responded by signing an impressive class of 20 student-athletes, anchored by Olympic Trial participants Maddie Tarantolo of Austin, TX and Chris Dart of Chatham, NJ. The men’s class of prospects ranked 20th in the nation according to collegeswimming.com and included four of the top five prospects in South Carolina. Dart was ranked 51st nationally as an individual.
Tarantolo competed for a spot on the US team in the 100 fly, while Dart, a dual citizen, finished eighth in Great Britain in the 100 back.
The class represents a national pull for Ip’s staff, as the 20 signees represent 11 different states. Many of the student-athletes will compete right away, especially on the men’s side, where Ip lost 13 student-athletes to graduation.
Coach Ip has been ecstatic about the new additions, saying, “We are extremely excited to have our new student-athletes on campus for the 2008-09 season. They fill many of our needs in the pool and many of them have shown outstanding results in the classroom in their respective high schools. They typify the student-athletes that we will need to continue to compete for academic accolades and ACC Championships and bring this Clemson program among the nation’s elite.”
Additionally, Diving coach Leslie Hasselbach added some depth in her signing class. Brooke George finished in the top-16 in both the one and three-meter events at the USA Diving Junior Zone D Meet. She was qualified for the USA Diving Junior National Championships, but did not compete because of move-in day.
Hasselbach also added Cassie Self, who took second in the AAU National event in the platorm dive, as well as fifth in the nation in the three-meter event. She also qualified for the Junior National Championships with a 9th place finish on the platform event.
April 19, 2019