Nov. 26, 2008
PULLMAN, Wash - Four student-athletes have each signed a National Letter of Intent to compete for the Washington State University women's swimming team, Cougar Head Coach Erica Quam announced, Wednesday.
Olivia Alva (Lafayette, Calif.), Jenna Bekker (Centurion, South Africa), Evelina Bieleckaite (Kaunas, Lithuania) and Shelbi Luchini (Rodeo, Calif.) will join the Cougars in 2009-10.
Alva, a senior at Campolindo High School, was a finalist in the 50-yard free and the 100 breast at the North Coast Section meet as a junior. She was also an All-American in the 200 free relay and 200 medley relay.
"Olivia is up and coming swimmer who is just scratching the surface of her potential," Quam said. "She is an outstanding student who has demonstrated the ability to balance swimming and school. Olivia got along very well with the range of personalities on our team during her visit and our team was excited to hear about her decision to attend WSU! I see her as a mature individual who knows herself well. This awareness is a great quality to have and I look forward to coaching her."
Alva added, "The very positive team environment, supportive coaching staff and (emphasis to) strive for academic excellence made me want to be a part of the Cougar family at WSU."
Bekker is currently training for coach Scott Gaskins at the Players Academy Swim Club in Centurion, South Africa, and was formed in May, 20008 - an idea from Olympic Gold Medalist Ryk Neethling. The team is based on a comprehensive training and competitive environment which incorporates elements of nutrition and sports psychology with swimming and dry-land workouts.
"Jenna has been tremendous to get to know during the recruiting process," Quam said. "I believe she truly appreciates the opportunity to compete in the Pac-10 and knows that Washington State can help take her swimming to the next level. She is training in a great environment right now and I believe she will set herself up for immediate success when she gets to Pullman next fall."
Bekker said, "Even though I am living in South Africa, coach Quam made communication easy and provided me with much support. She took an interest in me as a potential athlete and scholar and kept up with my progress over the past year. These factors made it easy for me to choose WSU as the place where I want to be!"
Bieleckaite competed for Lithuania at the Baltic States Championships in Riga, Latvia last March. She finished fourth in the 50-meter free, fifth in the 100 free, seventh in the 100 back and ninth in the 100 fly. She was a member of the second place team in the 400 free relay and anchored a fourth place finish in the 400 medley relay.
At the 2006 Lithuanian Championships, she captured the 50 free and finished third in the 200 free. At the 2008 Lithuanian Championships, she was fourth in the 50 back, sixth in the 50 free and 50 fly and seventh in the 100 free.
"Evelina is a talent from Lithuania who we are excited to have coming in next fall," Quam said. She is a sprinter who has shown significant improvement over the last two years. She will be an immediate contributor to our team and bring even more speed to our relays."
Luchini is a high school teammate of Alva at Campolindo High School. She is a relay All-American, Diablo Foothill Athletic League all-conference selection, and scholastic All-American.
Shelbi will add many elements to our team, in the pool and out," Quam said. "She has conveyed that she is interested in the big picture of life. I believe she can get all of the things that she wants out of her collegiate experience at WSU and we are thrilled she made the decision to come to Pullman. Shelbi comes from coaches and a club team for whom I have a great deal of respect. I believe I share a similar philosophy to their in developing great swimmers as well as great people. She will bring versatility to our line-up and is right on track to have a great collegiate career!"
"Luchini added, "I decided to attend WSU because I felt connected with the coaches and all of the swimmers. When I first arrived, the camaraderie within the group of the current group of swimmers was sensational. I loved the beautiful campus and knew right away that I wanted to be part of this outstanding program. The character on the team was extremely strong and coming from a character first team, I really felt at home."