December 19, 2012
H2Okies ink eight women in early signing period
Six swimmers and two divers will join the Hokie Nation next fall

BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech swimming and diving program has signed eight female student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2013-14 academic year, head coach Ned Skinner announced Wednesday. These future Hokies hail from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts and the United Kingdom.

Maggie Gruber is from Gibsonia, Pa., and attends Mars High School. She swims under the direction of Todd Clark at Fox Chapel Killer Whales and is ranked by as the 40th best recruit in the country. Gruber is the two-time Pennsylvania High School State Champion and record holder in the 100 fly. An Olympic Trial qualifier, Gruber holds multiple world championship trials and summer national cuts.

Skinner on Gruber: “Maggie comes from an amazing and supportive family. She has all the tools to enhance her elite level status and we feel that she will contribute the moment she steps foot on campus. She has an amazing energy surrounding her and the fierce mindset it takes to compete at the highest level. We are really looking forward to her arrival.”

Gruber’s Top Times: SCY/LCM

50 Free = 23.69/27.27

100 Free = 52.42/59.47

200 Free = 1:51.17

100 Back = 54.54/1:03.98

200 Back = 1:59.29/2:20.77

200 IM = 2:04.58

100 Fly = 53.50/1:01.76

200 Fly = 1:59.64/2:19.29

Caroline Buscaglia, who hails from Midlothian, Va., swims under the direction of Dudley Duncan and John Smithson at Quest Swimming. Buscaglia has posted US Open and summer junior national cuts in the sprint freestyle and butterfly events. She is also listed as a Scholastic All-American.

Skinner on Buscaglia: “Caroline is keeping the streak alive with Virginia Tech and Quest Swimming. Each year we have had the privilege to recruit from this high caliber team and each year we come away with some of the best swimmers in Virginia. Caroline has an amazing personality and great explosiveness within her swimming. She will be a key player for the Hokies within our women’s sprint program.

Buscaglia’s Top Times: SCY/LCM

50 Free = 23.52/26.82

100 Free = 50.75/58.01

200 Free = 1:50.39/2:06.48

50 Fly = 26.16

100 Fly = 55.82/1:03.16

200 Fly = 2:05.21/2:22.86

Taylor Ellis swims under the direction of Jay Craft for Kingfish Aquatics. The Hanson, Mass., native attends Notre Dame Academy High School. A finalist in the 100 breaststroke at this year’s Summer Juniors, Taylor has put up US Open qualifying times.

Skinner on Ellis: “We had the privilege to watch Taylor have a breakthrough performance at this past summer’s junior national championships. From that point, she has accelerated within her training and we are looking forward in seeing what she can do with her senior season. Our staff feels that as her development unfolds, she will make her mark within the H2Okie program and ACC.”

Ellis’ Top Times: SCY/LCM

200 Free = 1:50.78

500 Free = 4:56.79

100 Breast = 1:03.30/1:11.57

200 Breast = 2:22.90

Jessica Hespeler is from Ledyard, Conn., and swims for Ledyard High School and Connecticut Aquatic Club under the direction of Christine Pelham. Recently, Hespeler defended her Connecticut High School title in the 500 freestyle and won the 100, as well. A junior national qualifier, Hespeler was a 400 freestyle finalist and won the consolation final this past summer at juniors.

Skinner on Hespeler: “Since her unofficial visit to Virginia Tech last spring, our coaching staff was all about Jessica Hespeler. She has the size and stroke that we look for while recruiting high caliber athletes. We are so excited that after her unofficial and official visits she couldn’t get Virginia Tech off her mind. She broke onto the national scene this past summer with a final in the 400 freestyle and won a very impressive 200 freestyle consolation final. She has truly carried that momentum into her training as she executed two high school state championships. Jessica has the ability to swim everything from the 50 up to the mile and will help the Hokies in multiple relays.”

Hespeler’s Top Times: SCY/LCM

100 Free = 51.58/57.97

200 Free = 1:50.19/2:03.60

500 Free = 4:56.25/4:21.02

800 Free = 8:59.97

1500 Free = 17:29.28

Fiona Donnelly will come to Tech from Belper, England and is ranked by as the 30th best recruit in this year’s recruiting class. Donnelly is a highly versatile swimmer who attends Ecclesbourne School in Derbyshire and swims under the direction of Jamie Main at Nova Centurion. A two-time member of the Great Britain Junior National Team, Donnelly was a semi-finalist in four events at the British Gas Olympic Trials in March 2012. She is currently ranked within the top five in Great Britain in six different events.

Skinner on Donnelly: “We had a great feeling about Fiona from the moment we started recruiting her. She has an amazing personality and is fully engaged in her academics and her swimming. We saw a great spark from her once she stepped foot on campus and everything just seemed to fit perfectly. She will be an immediate factor within our team and there is no doubt that her excitement and energy levels will help others reach new heights.”

Donnelly’s Top Times: SCM/LCM

100 Free = 57.18/58.35

200 Free = 2:01.25/2:03.90

400 Free = 4:13.47/4:16.27

800 Free = 8:42.66/8:57.36

100 Back = 1:01.31/1:04.08

200 Back = 2:11.58/2:17.20

100 Fly = 1:00.60/1:00.87

200 Fly – 2:16.71/2:15.39

200 IM = 2:16.81/2:17.36

400 IM = 4:44.96/4:52.48

Laura Schwartz is from Annandale, Va., and attends Falls Church High School. Schwartz swims for the Potomac Marlins under the direction of Bill Marlin and had a fantastic junior campaign where she appeared in two high school state finals. She is the reigning high school regional champion in the 500 freestyle and 200 IM. Schwartz has continued to excel as she has surpassed Winter National qualifying times.

Skinner on Schwartz: “We really feel that Laura can be a great swimmer here at Virginia Tech. Our staff and team really like her personality and her drive to be great. Laura has a lot of untapped potential and will be a great addition to our training groups and our Hokie family.”

Schwartz’s Top Times: SCY/LCM

200 Free = 1:53.36

500 Free = 4:57.54

1000 Free = 10:05.21

1650 Free = 16:54.99

100 Fly = 56.61

200 Fly = 2:08.18

200 IM = 2:03.69/2:23.12

400 IM = 4:23.51/5:02.53

Ashley Buchter dives for the Soaring Eagles Dive Club. The East Berlin, Pa., native has competed in numerous Junior National and Senior National events in 1-meter, 3-meter, and platform events. She is currently a two-time Pennsylvania AA State High School champion, and competed in the 2012 Olympic Trials in the synchronized platform event.

Piemonte on Buchter: “I am truly excited for Ashley to become a Hokie. She has proven to be an extremely proficient diver in all three diving events, and will make an immediate impact on our women’s squad. Her work ethic and enthusiasm will fit in perfectly with our environment, and I am confident that she has the potential to be a huge factor at the ACC and NCAA level.”

Leah Piemonte, daughter of head diving coach Ron Piemonte, is from Christiansburg, Va., and dives for H2Okie Aquatics. Piemonte has qualified for multiple Junior National Championships in both 1- and 3-meter events, and has been the Virginia AA State Champion and state record holder for the past three years.

Piemonte on Piemonte: “It will be an unique and special situation for Leah to dive at Virginia Tech. She has always told me that one of her main goals was to be able to dive for me at Virginia Tech. She will bring some solid depth to the women’s team, because I know her background and skills are excellent. I am looking forward to seeing how she develops in her strength training and increasing her difficulty.”

For updates on Virginia Tech swimming & diving, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_SwimDive).

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