PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The varsity women's swimming and diving season for Plymouth State College officially opens this Saturday in Vermont when the Panthers face Norwich University in a 1 p.m. meet hosted by Middlebury College.
The Panthers will make their home debut next week with a pair of dual meets at the PSC Natatorium. PSC will take on Salem State College Wednesday (Nov.20) at 6:00 p.m. and Regis College next Saturday (Nov. 23) at 1:00 p.m.
The remaining first-semester schedule includes the annual Little East Conference Championship meet the first Saturday in December, and a home dual meet against Westfield State a week later. PSC has six more dual meets in January and February, leading into the New England Championship meet at Bentley College on Feb. 21-23.
Led by 12th-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have 13 veterans returning from last year's team that finished 5-5 in dual meets and placed seventh out of 18 teams at the New England Championships.
2002-03 Panther Season Outlook
"This will be a challenging season for us," said Switzer. "We have a strong nucleus returning from last year, but the success of this year's team could depend on the newcomers improving rapidly and making a solid contribution."
Perhaps PSC's strongest event will be diving, with the return of three two-time New England Championship qualifiers. All three returnees, juniors Jen Crescenzi (Killingworth, Conn.), Becky Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) and Krit Kearins (Andover, Mass.) own at least one school record; Crescenzi the three-meter, 11-dive mark, Huntington the one- and three-meter, six-dive standard, and Kearins the one-meter, 10-dive record. Freshman Tara Vandenbosch (Waterford, Conn.) should make a solid addition to the group.
Much of the success of the team this year will revolve around the strength and depth in the freestyle events, according to Switzer. Junior Ann Winters (Chester, N.H.), who dramatically dropped her times last year, will lead the way is distances from 200 to 1650 yards. Seniors Caitlin O'Connor (Rochester, N.H.) and Andrea Boutilier (Chicopee, Mass.) should carry the load in sprint distances.
Sophomore Corrie Curran (Sandwich, Mass.) joins the team this year and should be an outstanding addition in freestyle as well as fly and I.M. Senior captain Vanessa Re (West Hartford, Conn.), classmate Samara Lehman (Ogdensburg, N.J.) and sophomore Courtney Brockett (Charlestown, N.H.) are also returning freestylers and are expected to contribute. Switzer is excited about the group of newcomers, despite the limited experience.
"They have not yet posted impressive times," said Switzer, "but with hard work, some of these swimmers will contribute significantly to the team."
Leading the way among the newcomers are freshmen Tessa Ferrario, (Waterbury, Vt.), Megan Vandenbosch (Waterford, Conn.), Tara Vandenbosch (Waterford, Conn.) and Kristen Mulcahey (Pawtucket, R.I.) Others include freshmen Amy Ciaraldi (Derry, N.H.), Stephanie Gillaspie (Derry, N.H.) and Pilar Pavez (Middleton, Mass.), who also have freestyle experience.
Sophomore Scarlette Scarborough (Salem, N.H.) tops the returnees in the butterfly events as the 200-yard school record holder. Boutilier, O'Connor and Ferrario add considerable strength for PSC, especially in the 50 and 100-yard distances. Scarborough will also lead the group of backstrokers, but will look to some newcomers for support, such as Megan Vandenbosch and freshman Jayme Hussman (Mayville, Mich.).
"One of two of the newcomers will have to develop in the butterfly and backstroke to help create the depth necessary for team success," said Switzer.
Hussman will likely be the top breaststroker, according to Switzer. Veterans Re and Winters can swim here if necessary, but the coach is expecting one or two of the newcomers to step in.
A number of swimmers can swim the I.M., including Winters, Scarborough, Ferrario and Re. The challenge will be to swim fast enough to fill the hole left by the graduated Allison Bregy, who was a hard person to beat in either the 200 or 400 distances.
"The challenges for this season are formidable," said Switzer, "but there is a very good group of newcomers to join the veterans. There is much work and commitment ahead, but I am very optimistic and excited about the year."