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May 11, 2012

PITTSBURGH - University of Pittsburgh swimming head coach Chuck Knoles has announced the signing of nine student-athletes, who will join the program this fall.

The incoming class is bolstered by the addition of Mackenzie Meixner, Maddy Marcelle, Blair Wegescheide, Danielle Parowski, Alexandra Iwanicki, Lauren Fuerst, Lindsey Rodenkirk, Amanda Ford and Samantha Winkelmann.

The Panthers inked two student-athletes - Bethany DeWitt and Kaleigh Ritter- in November.

"These student-athletes fill several holes on our squad and we are extremely excited they are joining our Pitt family," Knoles said. "Each of these athletes has the strength of character, athleticism and academia that we look for in our Panthers. I have no doubt they will continue the success of Pitt swimming."

Mackenzie Meixner (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) is a butterfly specialist who has been swimming year round for just two years. Prior to devoting herself to swimming she was a competitive dancer. Her best time in the 50 fly is 24.42 and 57.06 in the 100 fly.

"Mackenzie is simply-put, an athlete," Knoles stated. "Her background in dance has given her amazing core strength and flexibility. We look forward to working with her. Mackenzie is going to be a phenomenal collegiate swimmer."

Maddy Marcelle (Pittsburgh, Pa./Woodland Hills) is a tremendous breaststroker. She placed in the top eight at this year's state championship meet. Her best times are 29.1 in the 50 breast, 1:06.0 in the 100 breast and 2:26.5 in the 200 breast.

"We have had the opportunity to watch Maddy grow with our club team the past few years," Knoles stated. "She has turned in some impressive performances and still has plenty of room to grow. Maddy has swum faster every year and we anticipate her continuing that trend in college."

Blair Wegescheide (Wappingers Falls, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) placed in the top 16 at the New York State meet as a junior and senior. Her best times are 27.1 in the 50 back and 58.1 in the 100 back. A standout at basketball, Wegescheide was ranked among New York's top 50 players her freshman and sophomore seasons. She focused primarily on swimming the past two years.

"We are thrilled Blair decided to follow in her father's footsteps and make her way to Pitt," Knoles commented. "While a lot has changed since her dad was in grad school here, one thing that has not changed is the commitment to excellence one has come to expect at the University of Pittsburgh. At 6'1, Blair has the one thing we can't teach and that's height. We look forward to working with Blair and to her continued improvement."

Danielle Parowski (Altoona, Pa./Mercersburg) is a middle distance freestyler. Prior to transferring to Mercersburg for her senior year, she placed in the top eight in both the 100 and 200 free at the 2011 Pennsylvania State meet. Parowski has competed at YMCA nationals, as well as Junior Nationals. Her best times are 51.59 in the 100 free and 1:51.43 in the 200 free.

"Danielle is an excellent talent," Knoles noted. "She has increased her training in the past year. While that is challenging, it is going to definitely pay off in the future. Danielle has beautiful technique and is a phenomenal racer. We look forward to her impacting our freestyle group immediately."

Alexandra Iwanicki (Glen Ellyn, Ill./Glenbard West) enjoyed an excellent senior year. She switched clubs this past season, joining Westmont Swim Club. At March sectionals, Iwanicki swam her best times of 23.99 in the 50 free and 52.58 in the 100 free. She also placed at the Illinois State Championships.

"We were very excited when Alex chose Pitt," Knoles stated. "She has worked hard at changing her technique this year, and it definitely paid off. We project Alex will continue that trend and become a significant contributor in the sprint events."

A versatile swimmer who can shine in nearly every event, Lauren Fuerst (Richardson, Texas/Richardson) specializes in the free and back. Fuerst excels academically and has been admitted to Pitt's Honors College with hopes of majoring in neuroscience. She competed in the finals of the 100 back at the Texas State meet and is a junior national qualifier as well. Fuerst's best times are 52.39 in the 100 free, 56.56 in the 100 back and 2:06.03 in the 200 back. She also may compete in the butterfly.

"Lauren is a tremendous young lady, who impressed the staff a great deal when she visited the Honors College on campus," Knoles added. "She has a great head on her shoulders with tremendous aspirations. Lauren fit in well when she met the team and we look forward to her being a part of our Panther family."

Lindsey Rodenkirk (New Berlin, Wis./New Berlin) is the younger sister of current Panther and team captain Alex Rodenkirk. She specializes in backstroke events, but can also swim the freestyle in any distance. Rodenkirk finished 10th in the 100 back at the Wisconsin State meet and was a member of the 200 and 400 free relay teams that placed in the top 16.

"Lindsey comes from a great family and we are pleased she opted to join Alex to become a member of our squad," Knoles said. "Lindsey has improved greatly over the past couple of years but we feel she has the ability to go so much farther. We look forward to helping Lauren achieve those goals."

Amanda Ford (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrew's) is a tremendous athlete who excels at distance swimming and running. She swims for the legendary Sid Cassidy, brother of Pitt Director of Operations/Senior Assistant Coach Marian Clark. Ford also competes in paddleboard and open water competitions. She has been remarkable in the classroom and plans to major in English. Her best times are 5:08.01 in the 500 free and 10:43.12 in the 1000 free.

"We've heard great things from coach Cassidy about Amanda's potential," Knoles noted. "She is an amazing worker who loves to swim long events. Amanda qualified for and scored points at the Florida State meets in both track and field and swimming. She is a welcome addition to our distance group."

Samantha Winkelmann (Richmond, Va./J.R. Tucker) will be joining the Panther diving squad under the tutelage of Pitt diving head coach Julian Krug.

"I have watched Sam dive at the USA Regional and Zone competitions," Krug stated. "She has outstanding basic skills that we can develop further. Sam has phenomenal athleticism and is a fierce competitor. I look forward to working with her."

"These athletes join Bethany DeWitt and Kaleigh Ritter who signed in the fall," Knoles added. "This is an exciting class. The coaching staff and I are confident these student-athletes will make a huge impact on the future of Pitt swimming."

Women's Swimming and Diving Adds Nine More to its 2012-13 Incoming Class

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