Susan Lizotte's tenure as Maine's head swimming and diving coach begins Saturday when the Black Bear women travel to Central Connecticut University for a 2 p.m. meet.
Lizotte served as interim head coach during the 2009-10 season prior to her appointment this summer by former athletic director Blake James. During Lizotte's interim season, nearly all swimmers (female/male) recorded college best times or career personal records.
"We have loaded the events as best we can. I just do not know what to expect," Lizotte commented anticipating Saturday's racing.
Central Connecticut was selected in the preseason poll to finish second in the Northeast Conference. Actually, CCU won the conference championship in 2008 and 2009. Taylor Friedman (4:52 500 free), who was voted NEC 2009 Co-Swimmer of the Year, returns for Bill Bell's squad as does NEC 3-meter champion Madison Vestergarrd.
For the Black Bears, projected to finish seventh in the America East preseason poll, Lizotte expects the teams' versatility to provide lineup options in dual meets.
"We emphasize versatility both in distances and in strokes. In every practice, everyone including distance freestylers touches strokes."
Several freshmen will open their college swimming careers for the Black Bears Saturday.
"I am excited to see the freshmen race. They look very good. I am excited to have them race," Lizotte said.
Among the freshmen whose early-season training has prompted Lizotte's excitement for Saturday's racing are Lauren Dwyer of Orono, Shannon Bender from Cumberland, R.I., Courtney Mellish from Ontario, Canada, along with diver Kara Capossela from Greenwich, Conn.
Dwyer recorded a 56-second 100 free in the Blue-White meet and swam a 2:05 200 free from a push with open turns while recovering from an
injury. Bender covers the individual medley, distance free and backstroke, and Mellish, also a distance freestyler, races 200 fly.
"Everyone will have an opportunity to show us where they are. I think we are ready to get started," Lizotte said.