PLYMOUTH, N.H. - A pair of national "B" qualifying times, school records in as many as a dozen events, and a jump of three places in the team standings were among the highlights for the Plymouth State College women's swimming and diving team at the annual New England Championships.
The Panthers brought home 15th place from the Division III championship meet, hosted last weekend (Feb. 20-22) by Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, marking an improvement over last year's 18th place for head coach Al Switzer's squad. PSC had a finalist in two events, and set school standards in eight individual swimming events, one diving event, and three relays.
"We had some incredible performances," said Switzer, who guided PSC to a 9-2 dual meet record this season. "Just about everyone recorded personal best times (swimming) or scores (diving)."
The top performance was turned in by sophomore Meaghan Buckley (Haverhill, MA). The young sprinter advanced to the finals in both the 50 and 100 yard freestyle, and swam well enough in the finals to reach the NCAA "B" qualifying standard and set school records in both events. Buckley, who was unbeaten in both events during the dual meets, finished the 50 in 24.75 seconds and took fifth place, and went 54.16 to place sixth in the 100.
In addition, Buckley cruised to a 19th place finish in the 200 yard free, setting a PSC mark in the process (2:00.86). She swam on three school record-setting relays teams, the 200 free (1:43.90) and 400 free (3:46.82) relay units that both placed 11th, and the 800 free relay team that placed 22nd in a record-time of 8:23.79.
"The amazing thing about Meaghan is that she still has so much to learn," said Switzer. "She's just at the threshold of what she can do."
Team captain Kathy Boyd (Manhasset, NY) completed an outstanding senior season in fine fashion, scoring points for PSC in both swimming and diving and setting two more school records. She captured 14th place in the 200 yard individual medley, finishing the grueling event in a PSC-record 2:17.92, and placed 19th in the 200 breaststroke with a record-time of 2:34.58. Just as strong in diving, Boyd placed 15th on the 1-meter board, scoring 270.75. She also owns records from the dual meet season in 1-meter diving (174.45), 200 butterfly (2:26.52), and 400 I.M. (5:05.37).
"Kathy is an outstanding competitor, and she consistently drove herself hard in practice," said Switzer. "She's an outstanding team captain. Kathy performed extremely well under pressure and rose to the challenge."
Sophomore Sarah Lagasse (Haverhill, MA) also performed well on the diving boards. After placing 22nd on the 1-meter board with a score of 239.00, she set the school record on the 3-meter board with a score of 299.40 and an impressive 13th place finish. Lagasse, who made her first appearance this season on 3-meter, has shown excellent improvement and potential on both boards.
"Sarah should continue to improve rapidly and become far more consistent," said Switzer. "She's done very well, and I expect her to score even higher on both boards next year."
Senior Danielle Paturzo (Marlow, NH) had a superb meet, turning in an outstanding performance in her final meet. She recorded personal bests in several events, dropping 2-3 seconds in her 100 and 200 free times, and swam on three school record-setting free relay teams. She owns the schools records in the 100 and 200 backstroke events, set in the regular season.
"Danielle was super," said Switzer. "She had a great meet. A lot of the success we had as a team was due to the fact the seniors were constantly in there showing the way. People like Danielle Paturzo and Rebecca Ritchie all had their best meets."
The Panther relays are usually fairly strong, especially the free relays, and this season was no exception. The combination of Paturzo, Buckley, junior Christa Smith (North Yarmouth, ME) and senior Rebecca Ritchie (Auburn, ME) represented PSC in both the 200 and 400 free relay, and placed 11th in school-record times in both races (1:43.90 and 3:46.82, respectively). The 800 free relay team of Paturzo, Buckley, Sandy Twadell (Jaffrey, NH) and Smith placed 22nd in a school-record time of 8:23.79.
Other Panthers who competed in the meet included junior freestyler Chrissy Crow (Chelmsford, MA), sophomore breaststroker Aimee Cormier (Milford, ME), sophomore backstroker Joyce Mailhot (Lewiston, ME), and sophomore butterflier Raleigh Lapierre (Haverhill, MA) and freshman butterflier Karli Hastings (Cumberland, RI).
Members of the team who competed all year but fell shy of qualifying for the New Englands include senior diver Gail Sweeney (Simsbury, CT), sophomores Allison Beaumier (Nottingham, NH) and Elizabeth McDonald (Riverside, RI), and freshmen Penny Bessette (Lewiston, ME), Andrea George (N.Dighton, MA), Rachel Lorenz (Moultonborough, NH) and Chrissy Sullivan (Billerica, MA).
The Panthers won nine straight dual meets and finished with a 9-2 record. PSC is 49-21 in dual meets in seven years under Coach Switzer, 48-13 the past six years. The head coach praised the immeasurable efforts and contributions of his assistants, Debbie Link and Beth Hamblet.
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