Head swimming coach Cyndi Gallagher and head diving coach Tom Stebbins have announced their early signing class. A total of 10 swimmers and two divers have signed National Letters of Intent to become Bruins starting with the 2014-2015 season. Joining the Bruins next year are swimmers Natalie Amberg, Maddy Burnham, Marie-Pierre Delisle, Katie Grover, Hannah Grubbs, Sarah Kaunitz, Mary Katherine Kish, Anna Quinn, Carly Reid and Jax Shoults, as well as divers Ciara Monahan and Maria Polyakova.
“All of these ladies fit in very well with the UCLA philosophy of athletics and academics,” Gallagher said. “They are enthusiastic and excited about the opportunity to be a part or our Bruin Family and ready to contribute to the greatness of our program and the university.
“These athletes epitomize all that is great within the blue and gold walls of UCLA,” Stebbins said. “They are great students and great athletes with great dreams. Adding these young women to our returning group next year gives us an opportunity to have a very special group going forward.”
Natalie Amberg preps at Carondelet High School in Concord, Calif. She helped the Cougars to a North Coast Section championship a year ago and was a part of the 400 Freestyle Relay team, which broke the national high school record. The anchor on that relay squad was Madison White, who is a freshman for the Bruins this year. Amberg, who is a two-time high school All-American in the 100 Backstroke, swims club with Crow Canyon Country Club Sharks under coach Dan Cottam.
“Natalie was our first commit which got the ball rolling,” Gallagher said. “I like the way she swims and races, and will help us in the 200 Free, Relays and Backstroke. She is excited about being a UCLA Bruin, which makes everyone around her excited too. She comes from a supportive family that values academics and the opportunity she has earned.”
Maddy Burnham attends Bettendorf High School in Bettendorf, Iowa. She is the school record holder in four events, the 200 Medley Relay, the 50 Freestyle, the 100 Butterfly and the 200 Free Relay. She recently won three events at a meet in Iowa to secure her All-American status for this year. Last season, Burnham was named First Team All-Conference, All-Region and All-State. She was also the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Regional Swimmer of the Year. Burnham swims club with Iowa Flyers and coach Robert Pinter.
“Maddy has improved leaps and bounds since she we first started watching her,” Gallagher said. “She was determined to make an impression and secure her spot on the team. That she did! She will have an immediate impact in the sprint events and relays. We are excited she picked UCLA."
Marie-Pierre Delisle attends Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, Calif. Delisle, whose sister Laurence was a four-year letterwinner and All-American at UCLA (2009-2013), won a pair of West Catholic Athletic League honors in 2013. She was first in the 100 Butterfly and was also a part of the 400 Freestyle Relay squad, which won the league title. Her time in the 100 Fly also earned Delisle All-American status. Delisle swims club with Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics under coach Scott Shea.
“I’ve watched Marie-Pierre grow up because of her sister, Laurence, who swam at UCLA. MP is extremely academic and hard-working, in and out of the pool,” Gallagher said. “I originally recruited her for Backstroke, but she is versatile and able to swim Fly, Free and IM for us as well. I am always happy when we get sisters or club teammates to come to UCLA. It shows that they have a good experience at school and in swimming. We are excited to have another Delisle!"
Katie Grover preps at Milton High School in Milton, Ga. From her sophomore to junior seasons, Grover shaved over two seconds off her 100 Backstroke time and four seconds off her 100 Butterfly mark. She is the defending state champion in both of those events, which earned her All-American status. A year prior as a sophomore, she was the state winner in the 100 Freestyle and is the school record holder in five events. Grover swims club at Swim Atlanta with coach Jeff Hike.
“Katie is another one of those swimmers who improved so much in the last year,” Gallagher said. “She can basically swim everything fast, and is a big relay swimmer. I knew she was going to be a great team player just in how she competes in relays. I’m excited about her improvements and she just keeps getting better and better. I have had a few Atlanta swimmers throughout the years, and I love that they have the confidence to come out to L.A."
Hannah Grubbs attends Campolindo High School in Moraga, Calif. Last year, she broke the girls 100 Backstroke record and swam on a pair of winning relays at the Diablo Foothill Athletic League championships, helping Campolindo to the league title. Grubbs is a two-time All-American in the 400 Freestyle Relay and also earned A-A status in the 100 Fly, 100 Backstroke and 200 Medley Relay in 2013. Grubbs swims club with Orinda Aquatics and coaches Ronnie and Donnie Heidary.
“Hannah comes from a program that (former Bruin Olympian) Kim Vandenberg swam with and their coaches founded the ‘Character Counts’ program,” Gallagher said. “She is super positive, enthusiastic about swimming, and also about giving back to the community, and I really like that. Hannah has just scratched the surface in her potential, and it will be fun to watch her continue to improve."
Sarah Kaunitz preps at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino, Calif. Kaunitz was a four-time champion at the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League championships a year ago in the 100 Breaststroke, the 50 Freestyle and the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relays, earning All-American honors in all four events. She helped Monta Vista to a Central Coast Section championship in 2013. Kaunitz swims club with Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics under coach Scott Shea.
"Sarah visited UCLA with her family as a junior and I was impressed with her dedication to swimming, to school and to her high goals," Gallagher said. "Initially I recruited her as a Breaststroker, but she can also Sprint Freestyle, which will help fill that area with the graduation of Ting Quah, Kathryn Murphy, Anna Senko and Jesse Bergman. Sarah has wonderful family support and I am excited that she has chosen UCLA to help her reach those goals."
Mary Katherine Kish attends The Collegiate School in Richmond, Va., where she helped them to a Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) team championship in 2013. Kish won the 500 Freestyle and was a part of the winning 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay squads, also placing second in the 200 Individual Medley. Kish swims club with coach Ted Sallade at Poseidon Swimming, participating in the 2013 NCSA Junior National Long Course Summer Championships.
“I really connected with Mary Katherine in our first conversation,” Gallagher said. “Although we all would love to see UCLA have a men’s swim program, ‘MK’ was not making her college decision based on if we had a men’s team. She is very versatile and will help us in a lot of different races, Backstroke, Freestyle and IM. She has a wonderful family support system and we are excited that we have another East Coast swimmer at UCLA.”
Ciara Monahan attends El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. Monahan, who will join her sister and current sophomore Montana in Westwood next year, placed fifth on the 1-Meter at last summer’s JO National Championship meet. She will attend her first USA Diving Senior National Championship on the 1-Meter in December and will also participate in the Youth Olympic Games Qualifier on 3-Meter at the same meet. Monahan dives with the Bruin Dive club team under coach Tom Davidson.
“Ciara is a very quick and gifted athlete,” Stebbins said. “I couldn’t be happier that we get to keep our best age product home. I am very much looking forward to overseeing her continued development, as she has an incredibly bright future.”
Maria Polyakova is out of Moscow, Russia and attends Moscow Prep School. A member of the Russian National Diving team under coach Oleg Zaicev, Polyakova placed 27th and 28th, respectively, on the 3-Meter and 1-Meter springboards at last summer’s FINA Diving World Championships. She was a bronze medalist at the 2013 European Championships and won silver on 1-Meter at the 2012 World Junior Championships. She was also fifth on the 3-Meter at the ’12 Juniors.
“Maria is a wonderful person and athlete,” Stebbins said. “Her gifts have just started to really develop and I couldn’t be happier to have her joining us next fall. Her high level international experience is a huge plus going forward. Maria’s signing is the culmination of a lot of work by the people within this athletic department. We are very lucky to have such great support.”
Anna Quinn attends Thousand Oaks High School in Thousand Oaks, Calif. She was the Ventura County Star Swimmer of the Year, earning All-American status in the 100 Butterfly for the second year in a row, as well as the 500 Freestyle. She placed third in the 100 Fly at the CIF Southern Section Division I swimming finals and sixth in the 500 Free. Quinn is also a standout in long course, reaching the 200 Fly finals in Junior Nationals twice. Quinn swims club with Conejo Simi Swim under coach Lauren Hancock.
“Anna has an incredible work ethic in swimming and as a student,” Gallagher said. “In the pool, she is a great racer, and out of it, she also does a lot of community service and is an excellent student. She changed her recruiting weekend to get home to volunteer, which is amazing. We are always happy to have local swimmers stay in the area and represent the Bruins."
Carly Reid preps with Kaunitz at Monta Vista High School. She is a two-time All-American in the 50 and 100 Freestyle and also earned A-A status last year with Kaunitz in the 200 and 400 Free Relays. In helping MVHS to a CCS title, Reid finished second in the 100 Free, fourth in the 50 Free and anchored both first-place relay teams. Reid, who competed at Canadian Olympic Trials and whose father is a former Canadian Olympic Team member, swims club for Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics under coach Scott Shea.
“We saw Carly at Canadian Olympic Trials a few years ago and I’ve had my eye on her since then,” Gallagher said. “She is an excellent sprinter and relay swimmer with a ton of potential. She is a powerful sprinter who works really hard and is not afraid to attack races. Carly is light-hearted and is laid back in everything….except when racing!”
Jacquelyn “Jax” Shoults attends Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. Last season, she earned All-American honors as the leadoff of the 200 Medley Relay. The Backstroker was also an A-A in 2012 in the 100 Back. Illness cost Shoults the early part of last season, but the school record holder in the 100 Back and two-time Trinity League champion in that event is back at full strength as a senior. She swims club with Mission Viejo Nadadores under coaches Bill Rose and Bill Voigt.
“Jax decided on her visit that she wanted to go here and was so excited to be a Bruin. You have to love that!” Gallagher said. “She comes from a demanding program at Mission Viejo, so she is used to hard work and not afraid of the commitment it takes to reach your potential. She is really going to flourish on our team and is a total team player. She communicates with all the Baby Bruins (incoming freshmen) and is already a team leader.”