Women's Swimming
Novitsky Announces Signing Class

Dec. 11, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The University of Illinois swimming and diving head coach Sue Novitsky announced the signing of five swimmers and one diver to National Letters of Intent. All five newcomers will be freshman.

"As a staff we are extremely excited about our 2014 signing class," Novitsky said. "We were able to fill some specific needs in the pool and on the boards. All of them have had success competing for their high school or at the national level. As a group they have the desire to keep improving individually and to help the team. As a group they are strong competitors that are also hard working, conscientious students and terrific people with strong character. As coaches we are looking forward to helping them continue to develop as individuals and having them continue to add to the strong foundation of talent that we are building on the team. They are excited to join the Fighting Illini family and wear the orange & blue!

Ashley Aegerter
Cross Plains, Wis. // Middleton High School // YMCA Dane County Swim Team

Main Events
Breaststroke, Individual Medley & Butterfly

 4X Wisconsin High School State qualifier
 USA Swimming Winter National Qualifier
 NSCA Junior National (200 breaststroke finalist)
 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American

Wisconsin High School State Championship
2013 - 2nd 100 Breaststroke, 3rd 200 Individual Medley, 4th 200 Medley Relay, 7th 400 Freestyle Relay
2011 - 3rd 100 Breaststroke, 4th 200 Individual Medley
2010 - 9th 200 Individual Medley, 15th 500 Freestyle
2009 - 14th 200 Individual Medley, 17th 500 Freestyle

Wisconsin Senior State Champion
2012 - 400 Individual Medley (Short course & long course)
2013 - 100 Breaststroke (Short Course), 200 Breaststroke (Short Course & Long Course), 400 Individual Medley (Long Course)

Top Times
 100 Breaststroke - 1:03.30
 200 Breaststroke - 2:17.01
 100 Butterfly - 58.38
 200 Butterfly - 2:06.18
 200 Individual Medley - 2:05.42
 400 Individual Medley - 4:26.73

Why She Chose Illinois:
"I chose to attend the University of Illinois because they are highly ranked in their academic programs. I also chose to go to Illinois because I think their athletic training facilities, swimming program and coaching staff will help me excel in my swimming. During my official visit everyone was very welcoming, friendly, dedicated and the coaches had good relationships with all their swimmers. These are the qualities in a college team that I look forward to being a part of next year."

Coach Novitsky Says:
"Ashley is an outstanding addition and is going to have an immediate impact in multiple areas on our team. Her range of events is tremendous and she had continued to improve throughout her high school career. Ashley is coming off a really strong high school season where she had her top finishes. Ashley has a great personality and strong work ethic, two big attributes that we look for in our student-athletes. Her current times would rank her in our top ten all-time and we are excited for the opportunity to work with her and help her leave her mark at Illinois."

Gabrielle "Gabby" Bethke
Palo Alto, Calif. // Henry M. Gunn High School // Palo Alto Stanford Aquatics

Main Events
Sprint Freestyle and Butterfly

 3X CCS Qualifier
 2012 & 2013 CCF League Champions
 NSCA Junior National Qualifier
 3X NISCA High School All-American
 2X USA Swimming Scholastic All-American

CCS Championships
2013 - Finalist 50 Freestyle, 100 Freestyle, 200 Freestyle Relay, 400 Freestyle Relay (All-American)
2012 - 1st 200 Freestyle Relay (All-American), Finalist 200 Medley Relay, Consolation Finalist 50 Freestyle and 100 Freestyle
2011 - 3rd 200 Freestyle Relay (All-American), Finalist 200 Medley relay

Top Times
 50 Freestyle - 23.94
 100 Freestyle - 51.90
 100 Butterfly - 58.58

Why She Chose Illinois:
"I chose the University of Illinois because it offers excellent academics, a close-knit swim team and incomparable school spirit. Growing up in Urbana, I have always been an Illini fan, so it made perfect sense for me to choose Illinois."

Coach Novitsky Says:
"We are ecstatic to bring Gabby back to the Champaign-Urbana area as a Fighting Illini. She has continued to improve throughout her high school career and has been a strong contributor on her high schools relays. Gabby helped her high school win their first CCF Championships and that is the type of team player that we want. With her strong academics and athletics, Gabby fits the mold of the kind of person that we are looking to bring in to our program."

Raquel Corniuk
Huntington Beach, Calif. // Huntington Beach High School // Mission Viejo Nadadores

Main Events

 Four-time Junior West Nationals qualifier (2008 - 2011) advancing to finals in both springboard and platform events
 Four-time Junior National Qualifier (2008, 2009, 2010 & 2012) and two-time finalist on platform at the meet (2009 & 2010)
 Three-time Age Group Nationals qualifier (2011, 2012, 2013) advancing to finals each year on springboard and/or platform
 2013 Age Group National Champion on 3 meter
 Member of ABC Splash Divers.

Top Times
 One-meter (10 dives) - 366.40
 Three-meter (10 dives) - 441.85
 Platform (9 dives) - 367.85

Why She Chose Illinois:
"Choosing Illinois was an easy decision because I instantly felt a connection with the team, Coach Waters, staff and campus. Walking around on the campus gave me the lasting feeling of knowing that it is where I want to be."

Coach Novitsky Says:
"To say I'm thrilled would be an understatement. Raquel is coming off an incredible summer where she not only placed top 5 on platform but also won the three-meter title at Age Group Nationals in Minnesota. She is hard working, driven and continues to improve. She is incredibly personable and truly fits the mold of the kind of person that we are looking to bring into our program. It's going to be a treat to coach Raquel and watch her make her mark on our Illini record books."

Kaitlyn "Kate" Joyce
Darien, Ill. // Benet Academy // Express Swim Team

Main Events
Freestyle, Butterfly, Backstroke

 2X Illinois High School State qualifier
 High School Team Captain and Record Holder
 NSCA Junior National Qualifier
 Athlete Representative on the Illinois Swimming Board of Directors

Illinois High School State Championship
2013 - 19th 200 Freestyle, 16th 100 Butterfly, 30th 200 Freestyle Relay, 15th 400 Freestyle Relay
2012 - 20th 200 Freestyle, 22nd 100 Butterfly, 17th 200 Medley Relay, 26th 400 Freestyle Relay

Top Times
 200 Freestyle - 1:53.31
 100 Backstroke - 58.07
 200 Backstroke - 2:04.99
 50 Butterfly - 26.64
 100 Butterfly - 56.99
 200 Butterfly - 2:06.79

Why She Chose Illinois:
"I chose the University of Illinois because of its great tradition of excellence in academics and athletics. I know that I can achieve and excel in my swimming, academic and career goals at the University of Illinois. On my official visit, I felt very welcomed by the swim team. I observed that they had a very strong bond and work ethic that fit with what I was looking for in a college swim program. I am impressed with the dedicated coaches and the strong connection they have with the team. I am very excited and proud that I will represent my state and my team as a Fighting Illini!"

Coach Novitsky Says:
"Kate is a fantastic addition to our team with the wide range of events that she can swim. We have watched Kate improve through her high school career where she finished with her top times to date. We love that she takes on leadership roles, being high school team captain and an athlete representative for Illinois Swimming, Inc. Kate is a dynamic and bright young lady that will be a fantastic representative for the Illini."

Sascha Meyers
Dearborn, Mich. // Dearborn Senior High School // Plymouth-Canton Cruisers

Main Events
Freestyle & Butterfly

 USA Swimming Summer and Winter Junior National Qualifier
 NSCA Junior National Qualifier
 USA Swimming Scholastic All-American

Top Times
 50 Freestyle - 24.15 100 Freestyle - 51.98
  200 Freestyle - 1:52.07
  500 Freestyle - 4:58.83
  100 Butterfly - 56.87
  200 Butterfly - 2:05.63

Why She Chose Illinois:
"I chose the University of Illinois for the Big Ten swim team and the great academic program, as well as its friendly campus atmosphere. I enjoyed meeting the girls on the team and immediately felt a part of the Illini family. Also, Illinois has the top Animal Science program which I am excited to be part of."

Coach Novitsky Says:
"Sascha is a tremendous addition to our freestyle and butterfly groups. She has continued to have great improvements and has gained valuable experience racing at the national level this past year. We expect Sascha to be able to come in and help us immediately. Sascha is a terrific student with an outstanding and inquisitive personality that will add to the overall quality of our team and be a great member of the Illini family."

Samantha "Sam" Stratford
Cambridge, Ontario, Canada // Centennial Collegiate Institute // Guelph Marlin Aquatic Club

Main Events
Individual Medley, Butterfly, Breaststroke, Freestyle

 Member Canadian National Team Development Program "Identification Team"
 2013 Canadian World Team Trials Qualifier and Finalist (12th 200 Individual Medley)
 Canadian Senior National Qualifier and finalist
 2013 Canadian Summer Nationals - 7th 200 Individual Medley, 13th 400 Individual Medley, 14th 200 Butterfly
 2013 Canada Summer Games - Ontario Champions

Top Times
 50 Freestyle - 26.68
 100 Freestyle - 58.11
 200 Freestyle - 2:02.20
 400 Freestyle - 4:20.82
 100 Breaststroke - 1:10.10
 200 Breaststroke - 2:30.47
 100 Butterfly - 1:01.22
 200 Butterfly - 2:15.11
 200 Individual Medley - 2:14.53
 400 Individual Medley - 4:47.27
 200 Butterfly - 2:05.63

Why She Chose Illinois:
"I chose the University of Illinois because the team was very welcoming and was a well knit group. I also chose Illinois because I thought the campus was very beautiful, had the academic support and program that I wanted. Also it was far enough away from home but not too far away!"

Coach Novitsky Says:
"Sam is coming off a tremendous year of swimming and is a fantastic addition to the team. She has great versatility and a dynamite range of events that she is able to compete in at the top level. Sam is a tough competitor that has set the bar high. She fills some big needs for our team in many events and her times rank right up there in our top ten all-time. Sam has a toughness, motivation and outstanding character that we want our athletes to have as representatives of our program."