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PSU Women’s Swimming & Diving season set to begin

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- The Plymouth State University women's swimming and diving team opens the 2009-10 season on the road for its first two meets with consecutive trips to Regis College in Weston, Mass.

            The season debut for the Panthers will be Saturday, Nov. 7, at Regis for a 1:00 p.m. dual meet. PSU will return to Weston the following weekend for the Regis College Diving Invitational on Friday (Nov. 13) and Swimming Invitational on Saturday (Nov. 14).  The home opener at the PSU Natatorium is slated for Sunday, Nov. 22, against Colby-Sawyer College (1:00 p.m.)

            Plymouth State will conclude the semester with two more meets in December, the Little East Conference Championships on Dec. 5 and a dual meet at Westfield State on Dec. 12. There are seven dual meets on the slate in January and February, including five at home, leading into the New England Championships the middle of February.

            Led by 19th-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have a dozen veterans back from last year's team that finished 13th out of 22 teams at the New England Championships. 

2009-10 Panther Season Outlook 

Head Coach Al Switzer             PSU won its final five meets last winter to finish with a 6-4 record in dual meets, and Coach Switzer (right) is hoping that the momentum will carry over into this season.  The Panthers lost only two seniors from last year and are optimistic about this year's squad.

            "The outlook for this season is bright," said Switzer.  "We have most of our key people back from last year and should have both quality and depth available in most events.  They are working very hard and we are anticipating a good year."

            The Panthers will be bolstered by the return of sophomore Nicole Brodeur (Claremont, N.H./Vermont Academy), who set school records in the 500-yard freestyle.  She placed in the top nine at the New Englands last year in the 100, 200 and 500 free events, putting her name in the PSU record book with a time of 5:32.24 in the 500.

            The team will also have two other returning school record holders in seniors Chaz Sweeney (Methuen, Mass.) and Caitlin Little (Scituate, Mass.).  Sweeney owns the PSU standard in the 50 backstroke (29.51 in 2008) and Little set the school mark in the 50 butterfly (28.47 in 2007).

             Switzer says the Panthers will have considerable depth in all freestyle events, with the sprinters providing the strength.  Senior captain Elise Innis (Harpswell, Maine/Mt. Ararat), Sweeney and sophomore Brittney Gondek (South Glastonbury, Conn.) return from last year's squad and will be joined by Little and fellow senior Erika Young (Lynnfield, Mass.)

            Brodeur leads a group of solid middle distance swimmers that include sophomores Lara Gruner (Center Barnstead, N.H./Prospect Mountain) and Brittany Shortell (Ansonia, Conn.).  Coach Switzer expects solid support from freshmen Jennifer Samaro (Salem, N.H./Central Catholic), Christi Jensen (Cromwell, Conn.) and Megan Godfrey (Warwick, R.I./Tollgate).  The distance races will be covered by Gruner, Shortell, Samaro, and Jensen.

            Sweeney and Young give PSU two top swimmers in backstroke races, particularly in the sprints, according to Switzer.  Sweeney placed third in at the New Englands in the 50 back two years ago.  The lanes in the 100 and 200 distances could be filled by Innis, Shortell and freshman Amy Mulhern (Taunton, Mass.)

            The breaststroke events should be solid with the return of junior Lindsay Graham (Framingham, Mass.) and sophomore Brittanie Bradley (Scarborough, Maine) along with newcomer Samaro.  PSU will be covered in butterfly events as Little, Brodeur, Gondek, Young and junior Alison Thayer (Higganum, Conn./Haddam-Killingworth) are all experienced veterans. Coach Switzer says determining the top swimmer in the 200 fly remains a question.

            The Panthers also have several candidates who could emerge as top swimmers in the individual medley races, including veterans Brodeur, Graham and Thayer and newcomers Samaro and Mulhern.

            PSU has two solid divers on the squad in sophomores Nora Regan (West Hartford, Conn./Northwest Catholic) and Tiffany Sweeney (Pembroke, N.H./Manchester Central).  Regan gained valuable experience last year and Sweeney joins the team with a strong gymnastics background.

            Switzer summarized the team outlook by saying, "I am enthusiastic about the new season.  Most importantly, the team is excited.  We have a lot of work to do, but we look forward to a successful and rewarding year." 

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