PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Another season of women's swimming and diving at Plymouth State College begins this weekend when the Panthers compete in the annual Betty Spears Relays at Wellesley College.
The Panthers, led by 10th year head coach Al Switzer, will compete this Saturday, Nov. 4, at 1 p.m. in Welleslley, Mass. After a dual meet next Saturday, Nov. 11, at Westfield State, PSC entertains Salem State in the first home meet on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at the PSC Natatorium.
Plymouth State will have nine dual meets and a tri-meet this winter. There is also the inaugural Little East Conference Championships the first weekend in December, and the annual Division III New England Championships the third weekend in February. After seven consecutive winning seasons from 1992-99, PSC slipped to 4-5 last season. But Switzer feels by season's end this year's group will have made great strides.
2000-01 Panther Season Preview
The Panthers will feature one of the youngest teams in recent memory this season. Graduation losses left some holes to be filled, so a large class of newcomers will have to build around the veterans for the Panthers to succeed. There are no seniors on the team, so Coach Switzer hopes to build a foundation for the next few years.
"This is a very young group," said Switzer. "Experience can make a big difference, so this team must gain it ‘double-time.' But with some hard work, this team certainly has the potential to have success this season."
Leading the way for the Panthers is junior captain Allison Bregy (Camden, Maine), who returns in butterfly and I.M. events. A very tough competitor, Bregy consistently wins 2-3 events in dual meets, and she turned in an excellent performance at the New England Championships. She can swim all events and fill in on relays.
Much improved junior Amy Bernier (Bristol, Conn.), a three-year veteran, complements Bregy in butterfly and freestyle. Newcomer Cara Shepard (Hampton, NH), the only other junior, can fill in the free and breaststroke events.
The cast of newcomers, according to Switzer, should be strongest in backstroke, butterfly and diving. Freshmen Scarlette Scarborough (Salem, NH/Chelmsford-Mass.), Katie Koch (Jeffersonville, VT) and Stephanie Corbeil (Manchester, NH/Memorial) and sophomore Megan Anderson (South Windsor, Conn.) will handle the backstroke in what could become a solid event. Scarborough joins veterans Bregy and Bernier to make butterfly a Panther strength.
Graduation took all of last year's divers, placing the burden on the group of five freshmen. If the newcomers, led by Kristin Kearins (Andover, Mass.) and Jen Crecenzi (Killingworth, Conn.) show consistent effort and improvement, it could allow PSC to score well in diving events. Becky Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.), a former gymnast, is making amazing progress and should do very well. The rest of the group includes Jen Dailey (Warwick, R.I.), and Jenni Frolkey (Wilton, N.H.)
The Panther freestylers will have to overcome the loss of last year's captain and multiple New England place-winner Meaghan Buckley. All distances will see a host of new faces, according to Switzer. Bernier and Koch will have to meet the challenge in the sprints. Sophomore Vanessa Re (West Hartford, Conn.) will be a key in the distances, along with freshmen Corbeil and Scarborough.
The breaststroke events present the biggest challenge for Switzer. Although Bregy can swim the breaststroke leg in relays, Switzer must find solid swimmers in the individual events. Re and sophomore Jess Nugent (Manchester, NH/Trinity) got some experience in this event last year, but the coach is hoping for one of the newcomers to emerge.
It's the same situation in the I.M. events, where Bregy leads the group but depth will need to be provided by freshmen.
"If there is a strong commitment combined with hard work and goal setting," said Switzer, "Plymouth State could be a team to contend with at the season-ending championships."