Seven Women's Swimmers Signed to National Letters of Intent

Nov. 25, 2009

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara head swim coach Gregg Wilson has signed seven women swimmers - including five NISCA/Speedo All-Americans - to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period it was announced recently.

"I think this is one of the best - if not the best - women's signing class we have put together in my 26 years as the women's coach," said Wilson of the fall's seven signees. "I have to give a lot of the credit to my assistants Eric (Fehr) and Naya (Higshajima) for helping recruit this extremely talented group. There is tremendous upside with this recruiting class and we have really covered all of our bases except for distance freestyle."

Allison Knight hails from La Jolla High School and is a native of San Diego. Knight is a member of North Coast Aquatics where she is coached by Jeff Pease. A multi-talented swimmer, she specializes in butterfly, backstroke and the individual medley. Knight earned 2008-09 NISCA/Speedo All-American honors. She is a USA Swimming Senior National qualifier in the 200 fly and qualified for Junior Nationals in the 100 fly. With La Jolla HS, she was the 2009 CIF San Diego Section Division II runner-up in the 100 fly.

"Allison was the first of the group to sign with us and she is outstanding in both the butterfly and IM," assessed Wilson.

Taylor Munk will come to UCSB via San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif. Munk currently swims for Crow Canyon Sharks under Gaucho alums Ethan Hall and Dan Cottam. She is a freestyle and individual medley specialist that has earned 2008-09 NISCA/Speedo All-American honors. Additionally, she is a USA Swimming Junior National qualifier in the 400 IM and was a 2009 CIF North Coast Section finalist in the 200 IM and 500 free.

"Taylor will help us in the middle distance races, swimming both the 200 and the 500 free. She currently swims for a pair of former Gauchos and will be a great addition," Wilson said.

Anne Peanasky hails from Sunnyvale, Calif. and attends Homestead High School. Peanasky is a member of Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics where she swims for Scott Shea and Tony Batis. She competes in freestyle, breaststroke and individual medley and is also a 2008-09 NISCA/Speedo All-American honoree. Peanasky has additionally qualified for the USA Swimming Winter Nationals in both the 100 breast and 200 free. With her high school team, she took third place in the 200 free and 100 breast at the 2009 CIF Central Coast Sections.

"Anne has recently dropped times in early meets this year and we are expecting more pleasant surprises from her. She is a versatile swimmer and will give us more depth in several events next season," Wilson commented.

Samantha Taylor attends Capistrano Valley High School along with men's swimming signee Lucas Norman. A native of Ladera Ranch, Calif., Taylor swims club with Coto Coyotes and is coached by Todd Conrad. A backstroke and individual medley specialist, she is a 2008-09 NISCA/Speedo All-American and was a 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in the 100 backstroke. Taylor has also qualified for the USA Swimming Senior Nationals in both the 100 and 200 back and was a member of the 2009 USA Swimming National Youth Team. With Capistrano Valley, she was a 2009 CIF Southern Section Division I finalist in the 200 IM and 100 back and was the 2007 CIF SS champion in the 200 IM.

"Samantha is a very talented backstroker that will help us fill the voids that will be left by Naomi Javanifard and Katie Ure's graduation," Wilson said.

Mariah Tharp will come to Santa Barbara via Chowchilla, Calif. The senior at Clovis West High School currently swims for Clovis Swim Club with coach John McGough. A sprint freestyler, Tharp was a USA Swimming Junior National qualifier in the 50 free. With Clovis West, she was the 2009 CIF Central Section Champion in the 50 free and the runner-up in the 100 free.

"We needed to bring in a sprinter to replace the three exceptional sprinters we will be losing in the spring (Anne Marie May, Naomi Javanifard and Courtney Bauer)," said Wilson. "Mariah has good credentials, has size and speed, and I think she will fit in and benefit from our sprint program."

Andrea Ward will join UCSB after completing her prep career at Campolindo High School. The San Leandro, Calif. native also swims for Orinda Aquatics and is coached by Ron and Don Heidary. An individual medley and freestyle specialist, she too has earned 2008-09 NISCA/Speedo All-American honors. Ward has also qualified for the USA Swimming Junior Nationals. With Campolindo, she was a 2009 CIF North Coast finalist in the 200 IM and 50 free and also has earned San Leandro Times Athlete of the Week honors three times.

"Andrea has taken some big improvements in her times and will be used in the IM events and quite possibly also in the butterfly," Wilson said. "She will contribute greatly to our program."

Sophia Yamauchi comes to Santa Barbara from Montgomery High School. The Santa Rosa, Calif. native swims for Neptune Swimming under the tutelage of head coach Dan Greaves. A breaststroke and individual medley swimmer, she earned 2009 NISCA/Speedo All-American honors. Yamauchi is a USA Swimming Senior National qualifier in the 100 breast and a Junior National qualifier in the 200 breast. With Montgomery HS, she was a 2009 CIF North Coast finalist in the 100 breast.

"Sophia is six-feet tall and only 16 years old," said Wilson. "We are in need of a breaststroker with the graduation of Katy Freeman, transfer of Sara Nicponski and impending graduation of Carri Cook. Sophia is talented and has yet to reach her physical peak."

All seven signees will join the Gauchos for the 2010-11 season.

"Overall I am very excited about this signing class. The plan was to bring in a large women's class and we are still planning on adding a few more women in the spring," Wilson concluded.

The 2009 women's swim season continues on December 3-5 when the Gauchos travel to Federal Way, Washington for the U.S. Short Course Nationals.