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Buckley, Panthers finish strong at N.E. Swim Meet

BRUNSWICK, Maine - Led by the outstanding performance of its senior captain, the Plymouth State College women's swimming and diving team brought home a satisfying 18th place out of 37 teams over the weekend at the New England Division III Women's Championships, hosted by Bowdoin College.

The Panthers, who finished the dual meet season with a 4-5 record, placed ahead of four of the five teams that defeated them in dual meets. Ninth-year coach Al Switzer took just seven swimmers to the meet, but the Panthers improved over last year's 19th place finish.

"Last year I felt we ‘slipped' down to a 19th place finish," said Switzer. "This year we fought and scratched and clawed our way up to an 18th place finish. I'm very proud of our team. I can't look at any one of them and ask for more than what they gave."

The New England Small College Athletic Conference again dominated the meet, taking eight of the top 11 spots in the team standings, including the top four (Williams, Amherst, Middlebury, Colby). PSC was the top state school at the meet, and with 167 points, just missed catching 16th-place Mount Holyoke (170 points) and 17th-place Coast Guard (168). The Panthers were well ahead of 19th-place Keene State (122).

PSC senior captain Meaghan Buckley (Haverhill, Mass.) capped off a fine meet, season and career in Sunday's 100-yard freestyle event. After qualifying seventh in the preliminaries with a time of 54.85 seconds, Buckley came back with a 54.12 in the finals to bring home fifth place. A seven-time New England finalist, the fifth place for Buckley matches her career-best finish, accomplished initially in the 50 free in 1998.

"Meaghan was terrific," said Switzer. "She improved her time in the finals every single time... in the 50, the 100 and the 200, the relays, everything. She had a great meet, and a great season."

Buckley, who was unbeaten in the 100 during the regular season and captured 25 of 27 freestyle races, finished in the top nine in three individual events at this year's New Englands - fifth in the 100 free, seventh in the 50 free, and ninth in the 200 free.

Plymouth State also scored team points Sunday with an impressive 12th place finish by the 400 free relay team. The group of sophomore Amy Bernier (Bristol, Conn.), Buckley, and freshmen Andrea Boutilier (Chicopee, Mass.) and Allison Bregy (Camden, Maine), who each swam a season-best time, placed 12th with a time of 3:47.27.

Senior Sandy Twaddell (Jaffrey, NH) etched her name in the PSC record books with her swim Sunday in the 1,650 freestyle. The 30th seed in the event, Twaddell finished in 22nd place in a school record time of 19 minutes, 24.45 seconds, more than seven seconds better than the previous PSC standard.

Another PSC record was set in the 200 butterfly. Bregy finished with a record time of 2:20.91, but placed 25th and just missed out on making the bonus consolation round finals.

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