The University of Maine swimmers and divers continued their outstanding competition under coach Susan Lizzotte at the America East Conference Championships, establishing 19 school records at the recent meet at Boston University.
“The consistency of good performances throughout the meet was satisfying,” Lizzotte said.
Actually, frosh Kayla Merchant, who swam at Bangor Christian in high school, was the first swimmer in an event at the AE meet for Maine. According to Lizzotte, Merchant’s time of 5 minutes, 19 seconds in the 500 free, a 17-second drop from her 5:36 seed time, established a tone of positive expectation that lived throughout the meet for the Black Bears.
Following Merchant’s swim, the first male swimmer for Maine, Zachary Hammer, slid from a 5:10 entry to a 4:51 finish in the 500 free to fuel Maine’s weekend of swimming that Lizzotte declared as “hot.”
“All relays were great swims,” Lizzotte said. The women’s 800-free relay established a school record by five seconds, and the men’s 800 free finished under seven minutes at 6:57, a sharply competitive swim which included a 1:44 split from Old Town’s Robbie Bickford.
Interestingly, the women’s 200-free relay, the relay that had swum so well during the dual-meet season, set a school record by six-tenths of a second. Three of the members, Jen Trodden, Lauren Dwyer and Emily Buczowski, all recorded splits of 23.88. The fourth swimmer, Naja Harvey, opened the relay at 24.1.
The Black Bear training in 2011-12 emphasized distance and included sets with long rest and fast swimming. For example, 10x100s at 11/2 to be swum fast, became a staple of the training regiment.
In the finals, Shannon Bender set a record in the 1,000 free (10:23.1) after her teammate Carmen Linden had set a Maine mark in the trials. Bender recorded a record in the 1,650 (17:19) while Mike Capossella exploded in his 1,000, dropping from a 10:15 dual-meet performance to a 9:38.9 AE swim. In the 1,650, Capossella went out strong intending to hold 58 seconds per hundred. His teammate, Yuri Chornobil, followed Mike’s pace and set a mark at 15:59.7.
Frosh Ryan Fahey was among the record setters eclipsing the 400 IM mark set by former Maine and AE standout Jeremy Bender, with an impressive 4:04.2.
” A beautiful swim”, Lizzotte noted.
Local swimmers excelled with best times and contributing performances at the AE. Bangor’s Joey Quinn sped to a 21.7 in the 50 free. Brent Williams of Brewer touched in 4:16 in the 400 IM. Senior captain Andrew Meehan of Brewer, racing in the 100 butterfly, finished in a record of 50.4. And, Orono’s Dwyer, in an impressive swim, narrowly missed the 200 back record, touching in 2:04.
“She can do a lot of things. She is very versatile,”Lizzotte said of the sophomore. Lizzotte aslo commended Bangor’s Grace Barnett, a senior, for her racing in the 200 individual medley. “Her 2:11 was a best time. That is really fast and impressive.”
Stellar swims for Bangor girls
For Bangor High girls coach Cindi Howard, in her 10th year at BHS, her team’s recent championship was a result of outstanding performances in both the trials and in the finals of the Class A state meet.
“We went into the meet knowing we had to race our best in two meets, the trials and the finals. We had 13 personal records, two individual records, two relay records and meet records. I did not anticipate the girls setting so many records, ” Howard said.
In the 200-medley relay and the the 200-free relay, where Bangor established new time standards, each swimmer recorded a personal record on the relay.
“The girls had stellar swims,” Howard said.
“Everyone came together as a team. We consider ourselves a big family,” Howard said.