Panthers return nine veterans from last year
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women's swimming and diving team is set to open the 2011-12 season, beginning with a pair of road meets the next two Saturdays.
The season debut for the Panthers will be this Saturday, Nov. 12, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational. PSU travels to Colby-Sawyer College the following Saturday, Nov. 19, for a tri-meet against the hosts and Elm College. The remaining two meets of the first semester are the first two Saturdays in December -- the annual Little East Conference Championships at UMass Dartmouth on Dec. 3 and a dual meet at Westfield State University on Dec. 10.
The Panthers will have four of their seven meets in January and February at home, leading into the New England Championships the middle of February. The home opener is Friday, Jan. 6, vs. Bentley University.
|Head Coach Al Switzer|
Led by 21st-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have a strong nucleus back from last year's team that finished 12th out of 21 teams at the New England Championships.
2011-12 Panther Season Outlook
The Panthers have nine returning members from last year, along with a group of newcomers that has Coach Switzer excited about the season.
"We begin the season with excitement and high hopes on one hand, and questions concerning depth on the other," said Switzer. "We had only one team member graduate last June, leaving our team with a strong returning nucleus."
Leading the group of returnees is senior Nicole Brodeur, who owns school records in the 500-yard freestyle and the 50- and100-yard butterfly. She is a nine-time finalist in individual events at the New England Championships, and can win points for PSU in freestyle events ranging from the 50 to the 500.
Another key returnee for the Panthers is senior Brittney Gondek, who is the school-record holder in the 100-yard backstroke and one of the top freestylers on the team. She also gives PSU a strong anchor to several relay teams.
Coach Switzer will look to senior captain Brittany Shortell and sophomore Delia Foley as solid entries in the distance and middle distance freestyle events, with Shortell also contributing in the backstroke. Senior Lara Gruner returns after missing the latter part of last season due to injury, and sophomore Jackie Viotto can also help out.
Senior Brittanie Bradley returns as the leading breaststroker after a year off; she was a top eight finisher at the New Englands two years ago. Junior Amy Mulhern will be one of the top backstrokers and breaststrokers and is the top returnee in the IM events.
A group of newcomers gives PSU depth in the freestyle events, which includes freshmen Jennifer Salas, Nora Doherty, Micala Baumgartner and Lauren D'Iorio. Doherty should also be strong in the backstroke, and Salas can also swim some good times in the back or breaststroke events, according to Coach Switzer.
Sophomore Shannon Rogers is back for her second year on the diving boards, and has shown excellent improvement. She should score well this year, says Switzer, and freshman Kristen Windish will look to contribute as she improves.
Switzer summarized the team outlook by saying, "we anticipate a good season. The success of this year's team will depend on a healthy and injury-free team. We have several high-quality swimmers, but we must also improve the quality of our depth in some events."
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