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Daniel Verdolaga of Irvine, California, has committed to continue his athletic and academic career at the United States Military Academy at West Point starting in the fall of 2023.
“I am proud and grateful to announce my verbal commitment to study and swim at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me on my journey: my parents, family, friends, teammates, and coaches, especially Jeff Natalizio. We’re not done yet. #goarmy”
Verdolaga is a senior at Santa Margarita High School and swims year-round for Evolution Racing Club. Though Verdolaga is arguably a butterflyer and IMer, he doesn’t have many weak events. He swam a packed schedule at the 2022 Winter Junior National Championships West, competing in the 50/100/200-yard freestyle as a relay lead-off, as well as the 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard breaststroke, 100/200-yard butterfly, and 200-yard IM individually. He finaled in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard IM, placing 21st in both events, swimming best times of 48.13 and 1:48.30 in prelims. He also swam a best time of 49.55 in his 100-yard backstroke, placing 32nd.
100 free — 46.24
100 fly — 47.94
200 fly– 1:49.77
100 back — 49.55
200 breast — 2:01.63
200 IM — 1:48.30
400 IM — 4:01.36
The legendary rivalry between Army and Navy has become an increasingly tight competition over the last few seasons. The Navy men have won the last nineteen Patriot League titles in a row, however at the 2023 Patriot League Conference Championships the title was decided in the final event, the 400-yard freestyle relay, with Navy winning by a hair over Army in a score of 856.5 – 846.5. This was the closest the score has ever been, and both schools have shown no signs of slowing down, racking up impressive recruiting classes on both sides.
With his current best times, Verdolaga brings some much needed talent to Army’s butterfly roster. His highest place at the 2023 Patriot League Champs would have been 4th in the 100-yard fly. Navy took the top two spots in the event, with Army having only two finalists total. He would have also racked up big points in the 200-yard fly, scraping into the A final in 8th. Yet again, Army was outnumbered with only one A-finalist against Navy’s three. In addition to his fly events, Verdolaga’s 200-yard IM would have gotten him 11th place, among Army’s four other finalists in the event.
Verdolaga joins fellow butterflyer Riley Groves, sprinters Thomas Hadji and Joey Chang, distance freestyler Natas Coats, and breaststroker Kalvin Hahn for the class of 2027. Army seems to be acutely aware of their weaknesses, as all of the incoming recruits specialize in some the team’s lowest scoring events.
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