With approximately three weeks of training remaining before the America East Conference Championships, the University of Maine swimmers and divers compete Friday and Saturday in the Dartmouth Invitational against a field expected to be keenly competitive.
Boston College, Dartmouth, the University of Massachusetts and Bryant along with the Black Bears comprise this year’s invitational at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center in White River Junction, Vt. Diving will be held at Dartmouth.
“We are going to get some good racing. It will be 10 racers spread across the pool and will be good swimming,” said coach Sue Lizzotte of the Black Bears. Unlike the America East Championship, the Invitational will be swum as timed finals. The AE is a trials-and-finals format.
“We want to see people do certain things. We are beginning to see the little things we emphasize in practice coming together,” Lizzotte said.
For example, in last week’s racing against a talented New England Small Conference team, Bowdoin, the Black Bears were particularly sharp on the back half of their races.
“We liked a lot of the splits on the back half,” Lizzotte said.
Frosh swimmer Lauren Dwyer had a negative split (second half faster than first half) in her 200 free (2.00.1).
“She was out in 1:01.2. To come back as strong as she did the second half gave her a lot of confidence,” Maine’s coach noted. With such a quick back half, Lizzotte projects Dwyer as particularly speedy later in the season when the rest and taper are applied to the training.
With Dwyer’s 2-minute 200 free, the Black Bears have 10 swimmers with 200 free times between 1:58.9 and 2:03.
“This gives us great depth when we begin to put together relays, including the 800 free at AE,” Lizzotte said.
In another highlight swim by a frosh, Cody LaChance recorded a 4:35 400 individual medley.
“We liked his splits,” said Lizzotte, who was impressed with the development of LaChance’s breaststroke leg, a leg where individual medley swimmers often spend additional time in practice transitioning from the backstroke leg and in establishing the stroke timing demanded by the breaststroke.
Actually, Lizzotte was so encouraged by LaChance’s performance that the coach suggested the former Waterville swimmer will race the event in the competitive Dartmouth Invitational, the men’s final meet before the AE finals.
Like the women, the Black Bear men have freestyle depth, particularly in the distance free events such as the 500. Seven men have recorded times between 4:48 and 5:02, with three of the seven touching under 5 minutes.
“We have been training more distance this year. This is the men’s deepest event,” Lizzotte said.
The event has been strengthened by the development of Old Town’s Rob Bickford, who is in the 5-minute range as are former Brewer swimmers Andrew Meehan and Brent Williams.
Chaiken wins 3 of 4 dives
Emma Chaiken of Bangor nabbed three gold medals in four diving events for Wheaton College last week in her team’s wins over Babson and WPI.
Against Babson, the senior won both the 1- and 3-meter, while against WPI she collected the gold in the 1-meter. Then in the 3-meter she missed the fourth gold by less than a point. Her point total for six dives in the 1-meter against Babson exceeded 200 points as did her total in the 3-meter against WPI.
Wells’ backstroke stronger
James Wells and the Indiana Hoosiers, ranked 12th in the nation, fell to the Volunteers from Tennessee and to the Georgia Bulldogs in last week’s action. Wells, a frosh from Bath, however, continued his development in the backstroke.
He finished fourth in the 100 back (49.4) in the field of nine. In the 200 back, he touched at 1:50.6, the seventh spot and three hundredths from fourth in the 10-swimmer field.
Husson home finale Saturday
Interim Husson University coach Bruce Babin prepares his team for the season’s final home meet Saturday against Smith College.
The young Eagles continued their weekly improvement as two, Heather Mann and Bethany Beaulieu, turned in personal records last week at Western New England. Babin admitted the traveling to WNE in the conditions of last week’s storm created meet and race preparation adversity. Nevertheless, Babin noted the Eagles scored 89 points in the dual meet, and Mann and Bealieu recorded their best times in their freestyle events.
This week’s meet against Smith will be the final home meet for the Eagles’ lone senior, Amanda Mason.
“It has been a pleasure to have her. She is one of the hardest working swimmers we have had at Husson,” Babin said.
The Dexter native holds school records in the backstroke, distance free, and 400 IM, and she is one Eagle swimmer Babin expects to be sharply competitive at the New England Championships in mid February.