PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University women’s swimming and diving season opens this Saturday when the Panthers travel to Wellesley, Mass., for a 1:00 p.m. dual meet against Wellesley College.
The Panthers will make their home debut next Saturday (Nov. 20) at the PSU Natatorium against Regis College (1:00 p.m.). The Little East Conference Championship meet is Saturday, Dec. 9, at UMass Dartmouth, and the only other home meet of the first semester is Saturday, Dec. 11, vs. Westfield State.
PSU will compete in six more dual meets in January and February, leading into the New England Championship meet at Bentley College on Feb. 18-20.
Led by 14th-year head coach Al Switzer, the Panthers have seven veterans returning from last year’s team that finished 5-5 in dual meets and placed seventh out of 21 teams at the New England Championships.
2004-05 Panther Season Outlook
Coach Switzer is always excited and optimistic about the upcoming season, and this year is no different. Despite the graduation of five key swimmers and three of the top divers in New England, Switzer is looking forward to another strong campaign for the Panthers.
“We have seven women back from last season who have posted some excellent times,” says Switzer, “and we have a large group of newcomers, equal to the size of last year’s team. They are ready to help make this year another successful one.”
The biggest change on the Panthers will be on the diving board, where PSU must rebuild after the graduation of four-time All-New England performers Krit Kearins, Becky Huntington and Jenna Crescenzi. Hoping to play big roles in rebuilding the diving corps will be sophomore Danielle DeStefano (Centerville, Mass.) and freshmen Kelly Keena (Westminster, Mass.) and Kate Marrie (Swampscott, Mass.) Much work lies ahead for them, according to Switzer, but they will be looking to uphold the strong diving tradition at Plymouth State.
The group of swimming returnees is led by senior captain Annabelle Winters (Chester, N.H.) and sophomore Cait Anton (Woolwich, Maine). Winters is a key distance freestyler and IM’er who owns the school record in the 1,000 free, and Anton returns after setting the school records as a freshman in the 100 and 200 backstroke.
The freestyle events will include Winters and Anton as well as juniors Stephanie Gillaspie (Derry, N.H.) and Kristen Mulcahy (Pawtucket, R.I.). A strong group of newcomers include freshmen Christina DiGiacomo (Meriden, Conn.), Christina Miller (Manchester, N.H./Central), Erin Musto (Westford, Mass.), and Melissa Walczak (Farmington, Conn.).
“These newcomers will contribute heavily to the quality and depth of the freestyle events, and that should be our strongest area,” says Switzer.
Anton leads a backstroke group that includes sophomore Katie Bouffard (Essex Jct., Vt.), senior Amy Ciaraldi (Derry, N.H.) and DiGiacomo. Bouffard is the top returning breaststroker, and will be joined by juniors Kristen Berry (Center Harbor, N.H.) and Abbey Pellenz (Manchester, N.H./ Central). The graduation of school record holder Scarlette Scarborough leaves a gap in the butterfly, but freshmen Miller, Musto, Mulcahy, and Krista McPhee (Windham, N.H.) could all make solid contributions.
Anton and Winters are returning strengths in the I.M. events, and DiGiacomo, Walczak, and Musto can fill in.
“We are very optimistic about the coming season,” says Switzer. “Freestyle will be our strongest events, and depth must be developed in the fly, back and breast. The biggest challenge will be to get this large group of newcomers to improve rapidly and contribute to the success of the team. This should be an exciting year.”
— 30 –-