UMaine swimming coach Susan Lizzotte has a bit of a difficult tasking looming.
“It is always hard to make a lineup for the first meet. I guess you go with your instincts,” Lizzotte said.
The Black Bears, who have been training for nearly seven weeks, open the racing season this weekend.
Both the men and the women race at the Husky Invitational hosted by UConn at Storrs on Saturday. Then, on Sunday the men race at Bryant University while the women compete at the New England Challenge scheduled for Harvard University.
Aside from the Blue-White meet and a handful of end-of-practice race swims, the Maine swimmers have focused on training.
“We have dabbled a little bit with race type swims in practice, but the teams are ready for the next chapter of the season to open,” said Lizzotte whose recent training regiment has the Black Bears in the 6,500-yard range daily.
This week, however, Lizzotte predicted a 7,500-yard practice.
“Every year we have been here, we have stepped up the training whether it be in the weight room or in the pool and the team has responded,” Maine’s third year head coach explained.
“I am so pleased with the team. We really have great team unity,” Lizzotte added. “The first-year swimmers have come in and have been accepted by the veterans. Everyone is working for the same goals.”
At Storrs, the Black Bears will compete with racers from Providence College, Fordham University, Fairfield University, Vermont, and UConn. Sunday, while the men are racing a Bryant University team that historically has matched up with the Black Bears, the women will be
swimming long course (50 meters) at Harvard.
The women return 26 from last year’s squad. However, Lizzotte has indicators this year’s team will be more balanced than a year ago with the capacity to match the Bears’ power in the distance events with sprint speed in the shorter distances, particularly back, breast, and
Seniors Lauren Thornbrough, a distance freestyler and 200 butterflyer from California, Juliet Cobb, a diver from Bangor, and Linda Gaudeau from Massachusetts captain the Black Bears. Among the first-year swimmers who have swum impressively in practice is backstroker Emily Buczkowski from Morse High and the Longreach Swim Club of Bath. And, Lizzotte noted Orono’s Lauren Dwyer clocked a 1:01 100 backstroke in the Blue-White meet, an indicator she has recovered from the injury which kept from last year’s American East meet.
The Maine men, voted to finish fourth in the America East Conference, return 15 racers from last year’s 5-3 team and have added frosh swimmers projected to contribute immediately. Belfast’s Eric Gaulin, a sprinter, has Lizzotte’s attention with his early season sprinting. Matt Twist from Messalonskee High also has displayed advanced skills in the individual and back.
Eleven Maine swimmers are on the Black Bear men’s roster led by senior Andrew Meehan from Brewer. Sophomores Brent Williams (Brewer), Joey Quinn (Bangor) and Robbie Bickford (Old Town) all made impact contributions as freshmen and can be expected to provide the Black Bears freestyle versatility across races from 50 to 1000 yards.
Mount Desert’s Ian Carbone, a sophomore swimmer at the University of Texas, swam a 1:00.2 100 breast in the Longhorns’ Orange-White meet recently. The 6-foot-5 breaststroker also swam a 2:12 200 breaststroke for the White in the meet won by the Longhorn Orange.
Texas opens the season this weekend at the Texas Mansfield Invitational. Meanwhile, at Penn State, senior Erin Thomas of Bangor and the Nittany Lions race West Virginia Saturday. An All- American a year ago as a member of the 400 free relay, Thomas, a freestyler, is a member of the Penn State’s school record 400-free relay (3:17) and 200-free relay (1:29.6)