Sacred Heart Prep senior Ally Howe of Portola Valley has signed a national letter of intent to swim for Stanford. She is one of six swimmers and one diver to join the Cardinal for the 2014 school year.
"I am both honored and excited to represent Stanford next year," said Howe. "I know that Coach Greg Meehan will help me become the best athlete I can be and that Stanford will provide one of best academic environments in the world."
Howe is the most accomplished female swimmer in SHP history. She currently holds seven of eight possible school records. Howe has five individual CCS championships, including the 100-yard backstroke in 2010, 2011, and 2012, and the 200 individual medley in 2010 and 2012. She is the CCS recordholder in the 100 back and, in fact, has lowered the record every year after breaking the existing record her freshman year.
Howe's 100 back time (52.30) in 2012 was the second-fastest time in the United States. Howe has been named the most outstanding swimmer in the West Bay Athletic League every year, and has received numerous "swimmer of the year" and "athlete of the year" accolades from local newspapers.
"Ally has worked so hard in the pool and in the classroom, and she has meant so much to our program," said SHP coach Kevin Morris. "I know she'll accomplish great things at Stanford. Ally is the epitome of a student-athlete. It has been such a privilege to coach her and teach her."
Morris is a math teacher at SHP, and currently teaches Howe in AP Statistics.
Howe is part of an outstanding recruiting class for the Stanford women's swim team. The website collegeswimming.com ranks Howe as the No. 3 high school senior in the United States. Including Howe, four of the top 10 swimmers in the class of 2014 have committed to Stanford.
"We are really excited about the high school class we have signed this fall," said Meehan. "It's a wonderful group of young women that will walk in the door and be impactful in our program in a lot of different ways."
The multi-talented group includes U.S. World Championship Team member Simone Manuel (Sugar Land, Texas) and 2012 AT&T National Diving champion Gracia Leydon-Mahoney (Newton, Mass.).
Meehan and assistant coach Tracy Duchac have filled a number of spots in the Stanford lineup with the class. Howe and Manuel are joined by fellow freestyler Alexandra Meyers (Fox Point, Wis.) and breaststroke specialist Heidi Poppe (Danville), while Janet Hu (Vienna, Va.) and Californian Lindsey Engel (Trabuco Canyon) compete in various events.
Leydon-Mahoney will add to an already strong group of divers for the Cardinal and diving coach Dr. Rick Schavone.
"Gracia is a top U.S. diver," said Schavone. "She is equally accomplished on both springboard and platform and we are extremely excited to have her join our program. She will be a very strong addition to the Stanford swimming and diving team in the next four years."
The future Cardinal will join a Stanford team that finished eighth at last year's NCAA Championships. The 2013-14 Cardinal, ranked No. 7 in the country, is off to a 4-0 start in dual meets.
Here's a look at Stanford's other recruits:
Lindsey Engel -- Broke CIF-Southern Section Division III 50 free record, previously held by Dara Torres . . . Has freestyle bests of 22.24 and 48.96 in short course yards events . . . Her 100 back best is 53.27 and 100 fly is 53.34.
Janet Hu -- Produced three top-14 finishes at the 2013 USA Swimming nationals (14th in 50 free, eighth in 50 fly, 13th in 100 fly) . . . Freestyle personal bests are 22.13 and 48.6 on short course yards, while her backstroke bests are 52.07 and 1:53 and her fly top times are 23.87 and 1:55.72.
Gracia Leydon-Mahoney -- 2012 US National Champion and Junior World Champion on three-meter boards . . . Has won Junior National titles on one-meter, three-meter and platform . . . Member of the USA Diving Junior Elite Performance Squad . . . Placed seventh on three-meter and 10th on platform at the 2012 Olympic trials.
Simone Manuel -- Owns personal bests of 22.04/24.8 in the 50 free and 47.73/53.86 in the 100 free (SCY/LCM) . . . Earned gold at the 2013 FINA World Championships in Barcelona by swimming in the prelims of the 4x100 free relay and finished seventh in the 50 free.
Alexandra Meyers -- A freestyle swimmer . . . Member of last summer's USA Swimming Junior National Team . . . Her top times in the 50/100/200 free in short course yards events are 23.21/49.86/1:46.9.
Heidi Poppe -- A breaststroke swimmer . . . Personal bests include 1:00.38 in the 100 breast and 2:13.14 in the 200 breast . . . A two-time champion at the North Coast Section championship meet.