As the Husson University women’s swim team prepares for its opening meet Saturday, coach Jeff Wren said, “it has been quite gratifying to see the kids learn.”

The Eagles will travel to St. Joseph’s College in Hartford, Conn., for a 1 p.m. meet.

“There is no specific meet strategy other than to get eve-ryone involved and to collect baseline performance meas-ures. We are calling it the be-ginning and we will go from there,” said Wren, who as-sumed his aquatic director and coaching duties in September and whose team has been in the water since the first week of October.

“The good news is we started with 17 and we still have 17 swimmers. The range of swim-ming backgrounds on the team requires considerable thought to provide the appropriate level of progression in the work-outs,” said Wren, who regularly differentiates four workouts within each team workout.

In addition to the water workouts, Wren has instituted a dry-land program.

“They all have responded well to the dry-land program. It brings them together as a group,” he said. “I feel it has become a centering point for us.”

With only six returning swimmers and with no swim-mer above sophomore status, all will be active during the dual-meet season, Wren said.

The most experienced swimmers are Kasey Roberts, Kaitlyn Theriault and Erin Doucette. Heidi Orff, Anna Marceau, Samatha Hall and Erin Simpson competed for the Eagles a year ago and have shown continued improvement this season while teammate Kaylana Blindow, who previ-ously played basketball, has made “remarkable progress” according to Wren.

Christy Ames, who has transferred to Husson, has im-pressed Wren with her leader-ship in addition to bringing experience she gained as a member of Bangor High’s suc-cessful teams.

Freshmen Nicole Nadeau, Jennifer Harrison, Kelley Bernier, Renee Dufrense-Dixon and Danielle McConnell will be contributors during their first year. And, despite not having previous experience in com-petitive swimming, Samantha Rivers, Christina Fallon and Meghan Clark have continued to make progress during the early weeks of the season.

Saturday’s events for the Ea-gles include 100-yard races in each of the four strokes in addi-tion to an individual medley event and relays.

Black Bears to host opener

Second-year University of Maine coach Skip Nitardy is preparing the women’s team for this weekend’s opening racing of the season against North-eastern and Central Connecti-cut in a 2 p.m. Saturday meet at Maine’s Wallace Pool. Diving begins at 1 p.m.

“We will be looking for some breakout swims. Our goal is to win some races and see how the lineup works before tweaking it for next week’s meet against [Rhode Island],” Nitardy said.

Northeastern lost to Boston College in the Huskies’ opening meet of the season. Like Maine, Saturday’s meet is the opener for CCSU.

Actually, Maine has not raced against Northeastern in five years and does not have a recent history with Central Connecticut. While the Black Bears do not have the benefit of recent competitions against Saturday’s opponents and where in this early season there is little known about the oppo-sition’s ability to race, Nitardy likes the versatility of his Black Bears and the mix of veterans and freshmen.

Ten freshmen add their tal-ents to the team, including three high-quality racers. They are Alicia Hahn of Falmouth, whose time in the 200 back-stroke challenges the current UMaine record, Lorna Thorn-brough from San Diego, whose 200-fly time also challenges the existing UM mark, and Scar-borough’s Danielle Gravel, who races well in a variety of events.

With the strength of the freshman class and the leader-ship and racing ability of cap-tain Colleen Miller, the UMaine coach projects the freestyle and medley relays to be stronger this year than a year ago.

Miller is the holder of five UMaine records, and the re-turning swimmers include seven members of the senior class, which Nitardy identifies as very strong.

Thirteen states, the District of Columbia and Israel are rep-resented on the UMaine women’s roster. Eight swim-mers from Maine compete for the Black Bears including three local swimmers — Bangor’s Erica Simpson, Grace Barnett and Lily Herbold — and Brewer diver Samantha Graham.

Ellsworth’s Shauna Lynch, a sophomore breaststroker, has a spot on the Central Connecticut roster.

Lane lines: Former Bangor area diver Chris Hamilton be-gins his eighth year as diving coach at Dartmouth College. Maine has Dartmouth on the schedule for January in a meet which also includes URI and Boston College.

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