The interscholastic swim season began Monday when swimmers and divers opened their training leading to the 2008-09 state meets in February. The first countable competition for the season is Dec. 5 and the final countable competition is Feb. 7.

For many of the high school teams the early phase of the season targets stroke technique and proper mechanics taught and reinforced through a variety of stroke drills. Included in the drill practice plans of Bangor High School’s Phil Emery is a freestyle drill identified as the Johnny Weissmuller drill. While the swimmers im-prove their mechanics with the Weissmuller drill, I wonder, what do they know of Johnny Weissmuller?

A swimming history lesson for today’s high school racers would inform them of Weismuller’s place in the history of the sport. Weissmuller was the first freestyler to break a minute in the 100-meter free (58.6) and during his racing career established 51 world records and 94 American records.

Competing for the USA in the 1924 Olympics, Weismuller won three golds in freestyle events and four years later in Amsterdam added two more golds. His speed in the water earned him recognition as the greatest swimmer of the first half of the 20th century. Following his swimming career, Weismuller entered the film indus-try, playing Tarzan in the movies.

If this year’s swim class knows of Weismuller’s achievements, challenge their swimming history knowledge on another American swimmer from the first half of the 20th century.

“Who broke Weissmuller’s Olympic record in the 100-meter free and acted as Tarzan?” The correct answer should excuse the swimmer from the end of practice speed swims!

Let’s offer a clue: He appeared in movies based on the Zane Grey westerns.

A swim historian would identify Buster Crabbe as the one who rewrote Weissmuller’s mark and played Tarzan.

Benchmark meet set for Maine

Coach Skip Nitardy’s UMaine Black Bears travel to Boston this weekend for the Boston University Invitational, a Friday, Saturday and Sunday meet and a first semester benchmark for the Maine men and women. The three-day format, a full event list, and a fast pool will provide Nitardy with an assessment of the Black Bears’ progress in a championship type format.

The Maine men, victors last weekend against Keene State, have been led by the quick racing of captain John Quinn in the 100 and 500 free and Andrew Mackeil of Biddeford in the 100 butterfly.

The women, defeated in Burlington, Vt., last weekend by a talented Vermont squad, have shown frontline punch and depth in the 200 butterfly with Kerstin Fenton, Mackenzie Grabmyer, Adi Levy and Danielle Gravel and have received impressive races from Colleen Miller in the 200 and 500 free.

Husson improving

Husson University’s swimming Eagles continue to improve under the training of coach Jeff Wren in his first season as Husson coach. Swimming in the Regis Invitational last weekend, Husson’s young team recorded numerous best times and continued to display improvement in applying sound racing strategies and in maintain-ing stroke technique when racing. Saturday, Husson visits the University of New England in Biddeford.

Lane Lines

ä Alan Ford, a member of the International Swimming Hall of Fame, died earlier this month in his Florida home at the age of 84. Ford, who 16 years after Weismuller set the record in the 100-yard freestyle in 1927, set a record in 1943 and later became the first swimmer to drop under 50 seconds in the 100-yard free,

ä Juliet Cobb, a graduate of Bangor High, where she dived for the Rams, competed for the University of Vermont in last week’s Catamount victory over UMaine..

ä Augusta’s Chris Berry, backstroke record holder at Bates College in the 50 (24.6), 100(53.3) and 200 (1:57.1) will lead the Bobcats in the opening dual meet of the NESCAC season against Trinity Saturday.

ä Brewer’s Kallie Pottle stroked her Springfield College medley relay team to the lead with a backstroke leg (29.5) as the Pride went on to win the 200 medley relay (1:51.5) in Saturday’s meet against the University of Rhode Island. URI nipped Pottle and the Pride., 156.5-143.5.

ä Erin Thomas, a member of last year’s Bangor High School team, swims for the 13th ranked Penn State Nittany Lions, winners last weekend against the 22nd ranked Florida State University swimmers and divers.