PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Another season of varsity women's swimming and diving at Plymouth State University officially begins this Saturday when the Panthers host a double-dual meet at the PSU Natatorium.
PSU will compete against Norwich University and Wellesley College this Saturday, beginning at 1:00 p.m. The meet was originally scheduled to begin at 5:00 p.m. but was recently moved up.
Saturday's meet is the only home appearance for the Panthers this semester, but there are five home dual meets scheduled for January and February. PSU will compete in 10 duals and two championship meets throughout the course of the season, including the Little East Conference Championships the first Saturday in December and the annual New England Championships at Bentley College the third weekend in February.
Led by 13th-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have nine veterans returning from last year's team that finished 5-5 in dual meets and placed sixth out of 20 teams at the New England Championships.
2003-04 Panther Season Outlook
"As is often the case, we will face several major challenges for the upcoming season," said Switzer. "We have quality and depth in the backstroke and individual medley events, but due to the loss of a number of swimmers from last year's team, the sprint freestyle and breaststroke events must be rebuilt. The success of this year's squad could depend on how well that is accomplished."
Diving remains perhaps PSU's strongest events with the return of four veterans, including three seniors who are among New England's top divers. Seniors Krit Kearins (Andover, Mass.) and Becky Huntington (Hampstead, N.H.) are the returning New England champions on one and three-meter, respectively, while classmate Jenna Crescenzi (Killingworth, Conn.) placed in the top four on both boards. Sophomore Tara Vandenbosch (Waterford, Conn.) and freshman Katie Francoeur (Hudson, N.H.) round out the diving contingent.
Seniors Scarlette Scarborough (Salem, N.H.) and Annabelle Winters (Chester, N.H.) return as the top swimmers from last year. Scarborough set school records in the 100 and 200 yard butterfly and 400 yard individual medley, while Winters is especially strong in distance freestyle events from 200 yards and up as well as the I.M. Switzer says the two are hard workers and tough competitors who will be excellent leaders for the Panthers this season.
There are three other returning swimmers who should be solid contributors. Look for senior Laura Brusseau (Wood River Jct., R.I.) in the freestyle and backstroke events, sophomore Amy Ciaraldi (Derry, N.H.) in the backstroke, and sophomore Stephanie Gillaspie (Derry, N.H.) in the freestyle.
Switzer expects freshmen Cait Anton (Woolwich, Maine) and Katie Bouffard (Essex Jct., Vt.) to be the top newcomers, as both are experienced and capable all-around swimmers who specialize in middle distance free, backstroke and I.M. Sophomore Abbey Pellenz (Manchester, N.H./Memorial) and senior Meghann Hogan (Tamworth, N.H.), both newcomers to the team, have shown the potential to develop into solid distance freestylers, while sophomore Kristen Berry (Center Harbor, N.H.) should contribute in freestyle and breaststroke events.
"We are very optimistic about the coming season," said Switzer. "We have questions in sprint freestyle and breaststroke, but as these areas improve so will the success of this year's team. We're looking forward to another exciting year."
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