Last August, at USA Swimming’s Junior Nationals in Irvine, Calif., rising Georgetown Prep senior Carsten Vissering had one of the more successful meets of his young swimming career.
An individual junior national title in the 100-meter breaststroke and a relay title on Nation’s Capital Swim Club’s 4×100-meter medley relay, coupled with a meet and national age group record in the former left the then-16-year-old with fond memories of the southern California area.
Perhaps that’s why Vissering, a three-time first-team All-Met, chose to verbally commit to the University of Southern California ahead of the official recruiting period that begins next Tuesday, July 1.
Or maybe it was just the balmy Los Angeles weather that drew him west.
“I’ve always hated the cold. I think I complained about it every day this winter. I’m looking forward to being able to go the beach whenever I want in L.A.,” joked Vissering, who is the top breaststroke prospect in his class entering his senior year. “L.A. also has an amazing food scene. I’m a big foodie and having access to that definitely was a factor.”
The main draw for Vissering is the reputation of Trojans Coach Dave Salo, who can boast a long list of Olympic medalists, world record breakers and NCAA champions who he’s trained in his 25-plus years coaching swimming.
“USC was the right fit for me, starting with having the best breaststroke coach in the world,” Vissering said. “I just feel like Coach Salo is the best person to get me to the next level. He’s had a lot of success with breaststrokers.”
Among those are Olympic medalists Amanda Beard (1996, 2000, 2004), Rebecca Soni (2008, 2012), Jessica Hardy (2012) and Eric Shanteau (2012).
Vissering hopes to become the next of Salo’s gold-medal products. As a breaststroker, Vissering, who ranks fourth in the county in the 100-meter breaststroke this season, has a lot of room for growth. The event is considered a “power stroke”, which generally means huge gains are possible once a swimmer begins lifting in college.
The eight-time all-American opted not to follow his NCAP teammate Katie Ledecky, who committed to Stanford last month, or his former coach Yuri Suguiyama, an assistant on the University of California men’s team staff.
“[California] was a very close second,” Vissering said. “Yuri was definitely a draw. He helped get me to where I am, and he’s doing great things at Cal now.”
California is home to former All-Met and NCAP swimmer Chuck Katis, who set an American record as the breaststroke leg on the Golden Bears’ 4×100-yard medley relay at NCAAs.
With Ledecky and Vissering decided, national recruiting attention turns to All-Met Swimmer of the Year Andrew Seliskar, the top boys’ recruit, who also swims for NCAP. He set the national high school record in the 100-yard breaststroke at Virginia’s 5A state championship meet in February, but is known as an all-around specialist, who will vie for a spot on the national team in butterfly, breaststroke and IM at the 200 distances at nationals.
He’ll enroll in the fall of 2015, less than a year ahead of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Before that, Vissering will return to Irvine for U.S. Nationals in August where he hopes to qualify for the U.S. national team’s delegation to the Pan Pacific Championships in late August. If not, he will most likely earn a spot on the junior national team, which will compete in Honolulu at Junior Pan Pacs during the same period.
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