The University of Maine swimmers and divers begin the season’s most demanding training this week at the North County Aquatic Complex in Jupiter, Florida.

The Black Bears will train the long course (50 meters) from 8 to 10 a.m. and then from 4 to 6 p.m., in addition to daily dry land training.

Head coach Susan Lizzotte noted the first-semester performances of three UMaine swimmers as the team prepared to depart for their training.

“I am really happy with her,” UMaine’s swimming coach remarked when speaking of Julianna McDonald, the Black Bears’ fastest sprinter thus far in the dual-meet season at 24.4 seconds in the 50 freestyle.

“She has adapted really well after not swimming her first year and transitioning to college swimming last year,” Lizzotte said.

The former Bangor High swimmer’s effort is her fastest non-tapered time.

“She has been spot on this year,” Lizzotte said. “She is really working on streamlining and her breathing pattern in the 50. She is stronger from the lifting, and we are continuing to work on her finishes. I think she can gain time there.”

The junior’s speed also has been evident in the 50 butterfly (27.2). As a result, her coach is preparing her for a 100 butterfly race in January and a possible butterfly entry at the America East championships.

McDonald, who also swims the 100 backstroke (1:01.2), was the Black Bear’s fastest 100 freestyler during the first semester at 53.6 seconds.

“She really is on in the 100. We are working on the final length. I like where she is now. With rest the final 25 will be strong,” Lizzotte projected.

Among the first-semester leaders for the Black Bear men have been Eric Delmonte, a transfer from Virginia Tech who swam for the Portland Porpoises Swim Club, and Windham’s Nick Sundquist, who holds five UMaine individual records.

“Eric is a great kid who likes to work hard. I have given him breaststroke sets I have never given to anyone at Maine,” Lizzotte explained.

His first-semester 100 breaststroke includes an unshaved 57.9 and a 2:06.5 200 breaststroke. Despite Delmonte’s success in the breaststroke events, Lizzotte recognizes the importance of a balanced training regimen for the junior and regularly challenges him with individual medley and distance free sets.

In addition to his school records, Sundquist has a share of four other records as member of Black Bear relays.

“The team looks up to him. When he is on the blocks it is game on. He is ready to race. Everyone enjoys watching him race,” his coach said.

Sundquist’s drive to improve impresses Lizzotte as well.

“After every race, he comes over and reviews the race. We talk about what went well and where adjustments can be made,” she said.

AE to sponsor men’s championship

America East will resume sponsoring a men’s swimming and diving championship beginning in 2017-2018, according to a posting on the conference website.

Virginia Military Institute will become an associate member of America East for swimming. VMI competes in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association.

America East sponsored a men’s championship from 1990-2013 and then discontinued the conference meet due to the limited number of AE schools offering men’s swimming and diving.

Since 2013, the UMaine men have competed in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference meet while the women’s team has raced at the AE championship.

With the addition of VMI, the men’s conference meet will include UMaine, Binghamton and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The women’s field will expand to seven teams including Vermont, New Hampshire, Stony Brook, UMBC, Binghamton, VMI and UMaine.

The 2017 AE women’s championship is set for Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, in February.