The search for a swimming coach for the University of Maine men’s and women’s teams is ongoing.

Associate athletic director and search committee chairman Joe Roberts confirmed Friday the committee looking for a successor to Walter Nitardy, who resigned his coaching position unexpectedly only days before the opening of the 2009-10 season, continues to evaluate applicants.

Formal interviews have not been held, although Roberts explained there has been preliminary contact with some of the applicants.

“I am very excited about the quality of the applicants. It is a very competitive pool,” he said.

The pool includes applicants with successful Division I head coaching experience. Some candidates have experience training men and women while in other instances their coaching experience has been limited to either men’s or women’s Division 1 teams.

Roberts emphasized the search does not simply seek to identify coaches with a record of athletic achievement and success.

“Our goal is to be as competitive as we can with our teams and to do so in an environment that recognizes the priority of the university’s academic mission,” he said.

Roberts has not established a timeline for the search’s completion. He did say Susan Lizzotte, in her capacity as interim head coach, continues to provides leadership for the swimming program and will do so through June 30th when her interim appointment expires.

UMaine Athletic Director Blake James, prior to the posting of the coaching position, explained that the search would seek to identify an individual with leadership skills, a commitment to serve the best interests of the students academically and athletically, an ability to monitor the program’s standing within athletic department expectations and a recognition of the importance of alumni and community relations.

Lizzotte served as assistant coach under Nitardy and as well under founder of the Maine women’s team Jeff Wren. Lizzotte, an outstanding swimmer for Wren, also assisted Wren with the men’s team.

Following her appointment as interim coach in October, Lizzotte adjusted the training routine for both the men and women swimmers, emphasizing event specific workouts as well as individual specific work outs. At the America East Championships, the Maine swimmers set six school records with 90 percent of the men achieving personal best times and 81 percent of the women recording personal best swims.

Since May 1st, there have been approximately 20 swimming and/or diving coaching positions posted for NCAA Divisions I, II, and III schools.