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PSU Women’s Swimming/Diving set for season opener

Panthers in training for solid season in 2012-13

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – After weeks of training in the pool, the Plymouth State University women's swimming and diving team is set to open the 2012-13 season this weekend on the road.

            The first meet is this Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Louise Goodrum Invitational hosted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  The Panthers will begin dual meet competition a week later when they host Colby-Sawyer College in the home opener on Sunday, Nov. 18, at the PSU Natatorium.

   
  Head Coach Al Switzer
   

             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. 1 and a home dual meet against Westfield State University on Dec. 8.

            The Panthers will have home meets on the last three Saturdays in January to highlight the second semester slate.  The annual New England Swimming Championships are set for Feb. 8-10 in White River Junction, Vt., with the New England Diving Championships to be held at Plymouth State on Feb. 16-17. 

2012-13 Panther Season Outlook

            Led by 22nd-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have a dozen members of the team who are training for a solid season in 2012-13.  The roster includes seven returning veterans along with five newcomers who should contribute to this year's squad.

            "This season will be a challenge for us," said Switzer, who coaches both the swimmers and the divers.  "We have some experienced and promising swimmers to lead the way, but the lack of depth will create some difficulties for us.  We're looking for everyone on the roster to produce in a big way."

            Switzer says the returnees provide the team with a strong returning nucleus. PSU will have to bounce back from the loss of five key seniors on last year's team, including one of the top swimmers in the program's history in Nicole Brodeur.  If some of the newcomers can step in and improve, the Panthers will be in for a successful winter.

            Leading the way for the Panthers is senior captain Amy Mulhern (Taunton, Mass.), who can post strong times in several events.  Mulhern should pace the squad in the backstroke and breaststroke races and provides a strong swimmer in the individual medley events.  She earned points for the team at last year's New England Championships in the 200-yard backstroke and 400-yard I.M.

            Mulhern will be supported in the backstroke events by sophomore Nora Doherty (Dorchester, Mass./Bostin Latin) and freshman Shannon Murtha (Essex Junction, Vt./Essex).  PSU has a solid group of breaststrokers that include Mulhern, senior Jennifer Samaro (Salem, N.H./Central Catholic), junior Jackie Viotto (Morristown, N.J.) and sophomore Lauren D'Iorio (Kennebunk, Maine).

            The butterfly line-up will miss Brodeur, who was a stalwart for the Panthers for four years, but this year's contingent includes freshman Kelly Merkle (Salem, N.H./Salem) along with veterans Mulhern and Samaro.

            Several swimmers can help out in the IM events, led by Samaro, Mulhern, and possible Merkle. "I expect much improvement in the stroke events during the year," said Switzer, "such that several good IM performances should develop."

            PSU was hit hard by graduation in the freestyle events with losses in sprints and distances.  Junior Delia Foley (Londonderry, N.H.) is the top returnee in the middle and long distance races, with help from Viotto and Samaro.  The leading candidates for the shorter distances will be veterans Doherty and D'Iorio  and newcomers Merkle, Murtha and Jessica Bierschied (Portsmouth, N.H./Great Bay Charter School).

            The team will be looking to improve in the diving events.  Junior Shannon Rogers (Beverly, Mass.) is a returning veteran who has greatly improved and will be back for second semester.  Junior newcomer Yulan Millican (West Kingston, R.I.) is looking for improvement in her first season.

            "The spirit and excitement of the team is excellent," said Switzer. "This will be a fun team with which to work.  I expect that they will work hard, and that they will represent themselves and Plymouth State in outstanding fashion." 

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