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Wednesday, April 14, 2021
Backstroke race start
Backstroke race start

Florida’s women’s swimming and diving team officially completed its incoming freshman class for the 2021-22 season. UF will welcome nine women to the program next year.

The first new Gator to sign was Anna Auld, a freestyle-dominant swimmer from West Palm Beach, Florida. Auld made a name for herself while at Forest Hill High School, even earning a spot on the 2019-20 USA Swimming Women’s National Junior Team for open water. According to College Swimming’s rankings, she is the No. 7 swimmer in Florida in her class. 

The next signee was Micayla Cronk out of Palm Coast, Florida. Cronk excelled in the pool during her high school career, and she is the most decorated high school athlete in Flagler County, Florida. Another freestyle swimmer, Cronk took home her fourth consecutive title in the 100-yard freestyle and her third consecutive title in the 200-yard freestyle at the 2020 FHSAA 4A State Championship earlier this month. According to College Swimming, Cronk is the No. 1-ranked swimmer in Florida for the 2021 class. 

The first out-of-state signee was Brooke Zettel from Holly Springs, North Carolina. Zettel specializes in breaststroke, individual medley and freestyle. At the 2020 NCHSAA 4A Central Regional Championship, she took first place in both the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley. She is the No. 2-ranked swimmer in North Carolina. 

The fourth signee, Georgia Bates, was found right in UF’s backyard. The Gainesville native excels most in freestyle and backstroke. In 2019, Bates was a finalist in the FHSAA 4A Region 1 50-yard freestyle race. She will join her hometown squad as the No. 26 class of 2021 recruit in Florida. 

Mary Kate Kelley from Jacksonville, Florida, became the fifth signee for the Gators. A butterfly and backstroke specialist, Kelley is the No. 11 ranked swimming recruit in Florida for the class of 2021. The USA Swimming Scholastic All-American finished second in both the 100-yard butterfly and backstroke at the 2019 FHSAA 1A State Championships. 

The next signee was Olivia Peoples from St. Augustine, Florida. Peoples is the No. 6 ranked class of 2021 recruit in Florida, specializing in butterfly and breaststroke. Her high school career achievements include a first-place finish in the 100-yard butterfly at the 2019 FHSAA 4A State Championship. She notched a first-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke in the 2018 FHSAA 3A State Championship.

Ekaterina Nikonova is the only international signee in this incoming class. The Novosibirsk, Russia, native is ranked No. 9 internationally in College Swimming’s rankings. In 2019, she won a bronze medal in the 50-meter freestyle at the European Junior National Championship.

Aris Runnels from Woodbridge, Virginia, rounds out the swim signees for the 2021 freshman class. Runnels, the No. 9 ranked swimmer in Virginia, earned Champion’s title in the 100-yard backstroke at the 2020 VHSL Class 6A Championship.

Carina Lumia from Indian Rocks Beach, Florida, will also be joining the squad next season. Lumia is the only diver in the incoming class. She is a three-time FHSAA State Champion, including a win in the 1-meter dive at the 2019 FHSAA 3A State Championship meet.

Contact Sara Kate Dyson at skatedyson@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter @sarakatedyson.

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