“They are excited. It has been three weeks since we have raced. They are riding higher in the water. They are stronger in the water and they have a lot more energy. They are ready to race,” explained UMaine coach Suzie Lizzotte as her swimmers prepared for the America East Championships beginning tonight at Boston University.

The meet concludes Sunday evening.

In the men’s championship, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County enters the AE meet as the favorite. Boston University is the favorite in the women’s meet.

Lizzotte, who was named the Black Bears’ interim coach in October following the resignation of Walter Nitardy, reflected on her teams’ progress since October.

“I am happy with how everything has gone. They have trained hard and we have given them the tools necessary to be successful,” she said. “Now, they are ready to get up on the blocks and swim fast.”

The Black Bears can be expected to swim smart races, according to Lizzotte.

“We adjusted the training this season and we expect the swimmers to bring back the second half of their races strong,” she said.

During the four days of America East racing, a swimmer can compete in a maximum of three individual events and four relays. With the composition of Maine’s final relays in the 200 free, 400 free, 800 free as well the 200 and 400 medley remaining open, Lizzotte anticipates as many as six swimmers competing in the maximum events allowed.

Five swimmers and a diver will compete for UMaine in their final AE championship. Kevin Staples, Jamie Young, Meag Fisher, Nissa Morrone and Meg McLean, along with diver Samantha Graham conclude their careers for the Black Bears.

“I would like to see them be very successful in their final meet and go out with a bang,” Lizzotte stated.

In addition to an adjustment in training which Lizzotte projects will impact Maine’s performance, the Bears will compete wearing the Lazer racing suit. A year ago, Maine was the only team competing in the AE Championship not wearing the Lazer racing suit.

“The kids are very excited to race in the Lazer. It took a lot of work to make this happen. Now, they feel they are equal to everyone else at the meet,” Lizzotte said.

The Lazer suit, manufactured by Speedo, has been redesigned to comply with the guidelines established by FINA, the international governing body for competitive swimming. Most of the national swimming associations have adopted the FINA guidelines for suit design.

The Lazer suit has a paperlike feel to it, Lizzotte explained. The racing durability of the suit, she explained, approaches 14 to 15 races. However, she, undoubtedly, will be adjusting the pre-meet Black Bear schedule as, in some instances, Lizzotte indicated, swimmers have required 30 minutes to fit the suit properly for their first race.

Maine’s first racing in AE will come Thursday in the 800 free relay and the 200 medley relay.

Two swimmers from Deering High of Portland, Arik Seller and Matt Rickett, both of whom race for BU, are the top seeds in the 200 free (1:41.0) and the 100 butterfly (49.1), respectively.