With the closing of the early signing period, Kentucky swimming and diving has inked nine to the class of 2018, head coach Lars Jorgensen announced Wednesday afternoon.

Between the men’s and women’s signees, the Wildcats have signed three top-100 recruits according to CollegeSwimming.com, including No. 52 Izzy Gati and No. 74 Riley Gaines on the women’s side and No. 77 Mason Wilby for the men.

“Overall, we are very pleased with our recruiting class for the fall of 2018,” Jorgensen said. “The whole staff worked hard to bring the best prospects that we could to UK. I think all of our signees have the potential to make an impact for us, both at the conference level as well as nationally. We’re looking forward to having these athletes in Lexington and helping us continue building a tradition of success.”

In the women’s signing class, Gati and Gaines are joined by Kelly Rodriguez, Sophie Sorenson, Caroline Szydlowski and diver Kyndal Knight. Along with Wilby, the men’s team has added Kyle Barker and diver Danny Zhang.

Kyle Barker
Nation’s Capital Swim Club/John Champe High School – Aldie, Va.
IM/Breaststroke
– No. 11 recruit in Virginia
– Multi-event Junior Nationals finalist in 2017
– Runner-up in 100 fly at 2017 Virginia 4A State Championships

Jorgensen on Barker: “Kyle is an outstanding young man who’s a great breaststroke/IM prospect. He comes from a really great team in Nation’s Capital. He’s been well coached there and he’s improving rapidly. We want to see him continue to improve his freshman year and have an immediate impact for the Cats.”

Riley Gaines (No. 74 recruit by CollegeSwimming.com)
Excel Aquatics/Station Camp High School – Gallatin, Tenn.
Free/Fly
– No. 2 recruit in Tennessee
– Six-time Tennessee State Champion, having won both the 100 free and 100 fly three straight years
– 2017 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 100-meter freestyle

Jorgensen on Gaines: “Riley comes from a very athletic family. She’s versatile, both sprint and middle distance free, but also can help us in butterfly. She can do everything. She’s highly competitive and we think she will make a huge impact on all of our relays next year and has a great chance to make NCAAs.”

Isabella ‘Izzy’ Gati (No. 52 recruit by CollegeSwimming.com)
Nation’s Capital Swim Club/The Madeira School – El Dorado, Ark.
Fly/Free
– No. 1 recruit from Arkansas
– 2017 champion in 100 fly and runner-up in 200 free at the VISAA (Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association) State Championships
– Currently boards at the Madeira School, training with Nations Capital Swim Club

Jorgensen on Gati: “Izzy is an outstanding prospect. We’re super excited about her. She had a great junior year and can help us tremendously in the butterfly events. She’ll have an immediate impact in our butterfly group.”

Kyndal Knight
Carolina Diving Academy/East Gaston High School – Stanley, N.C.
Diving
– 2016 and 2017 runner-up on 1-meter at North Carolina 3A State Championships
– Level 10 gymnast prior to diving
– USA Diving Nationals qualifier

Hautau on Knight: “I think Kyndal is a very talented athlete. She was a high-level gymnast and she’s transferred to diving rapidly. She is powerful, quick, has great lines and is a great competitor. I think she has tremendous upside.”

Kelly Rodriguez
Badger Aquatics Club/Edgewood High School – Madison, Wis.
Freestyle
– No. 3 recruit in Wisconsin
– 2016 WIAA Division II titles in 200 and 500 free

Jorgensen on Rodriguez: “Kelly is a really versatile freestyler who I think can have an impact on relays. We think she can score at both SECs and NCAAs. We’ve had some great swimmers from Wisconsin, so were excited about her carrying on that tradition at UK.”

Sophie Sorenson
Ames Cyclone Aquatic Club/Ames High School – Ames, Iowa
Backstroke
– No. 125 recruit in the class of 2018
– No. 2 recruit in Iowa
– 2016 and 2017 IGHSAU (Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union) state champion and state record-holder in the 100 backstroke (54.60), 200 medley relay, and 400 free relay
– Part of three consecutive state championship teams at Ames High School
– 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier in 200-meter backstroke

Jorgensen on Sorenson: “We’re super excited about Sophie. She is a great backstroker and freestyler and I think she can come here and train with one of the best backstroke groups in the country. Hopefully that will elevate her and help her to be able to contribute at the NCAA level.”

Caroline Szydlowski
Oakland Live Y’ers/Academy of the Sacred Heart – Oakland Township, Mich.
Freestyle
– No. 9 recruit in Michigan
– Distance freestyle specialist

Jorgensen on Szydlowski: “Caroline comes from a great team in Michigan. I think she’s going to add to our distance freestyle group a lot, where she has a chance to come in and compete for a spot on our SEC team.”

Mason Wilby (No. 77 recruit by CollegeSwimming.com)
Gator Swim Club/Buchholz High School – Gainesville, Fla.
Fly/Back
– No. 77 recruit in the class of 2018
– No. 6 recruit in Florida
– Defending FHSAA 4A state champion in the 100 fly (48.12) and runner-up in the 100 back (49.50)
– Represented Great Britain at the 2017 European Junior Championships

Jorgensen on Wilby: “Mason is a great prospect from Florida. He had a great summer representing Britain in the European Junior Championships. I think he’s going to have an immediate impact for us in his freshman year at Kentucky.”

Mingli ‘Danny’ Zhang
Pacific DGA/Cypress High School – Cypress, Calif.
Diving
– Swept springboard events at 2016 AAU Nationals
– Moved to the U.S. from China to pursue education and diving

Hautau on Zhang: “Danny is a very experienced diver coming from one of the top training centers in China. He’s got great skills and mechanics. He’s very dynamic, quick and is already a high level diver, so we’re excited to have him here in Lexington. We think he’ll have an immediate impact for us.”

For the latest on the Kentucky swimming and diving program, follow @UKSwimDive on Twitter, on Facebook at Facebook.com/UKSwimDive, and on the web at UKathletics.com.

‑ GO CATS –
For more information contact:
Karlie Kinneer

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