CAMBRIDGE, Mass.- The UMBC men’s swimming & diving team was chosen to win its sixth consecutive America East Championship according to the preseason head coaches’ polls. The Retrievers were the unanimous decision (coaches were unable to vote for their own team) with four first place votes and 16 total points. Winning a close battle for second is the Boston University Terriers, who received the remaining first-place vote and a total of 13 points, setting them a point ahead of third-place Binghamton (12 points). Stony Brook is seeded in fourth place with seven points, holding off fifth-place Maine with four points.

When UMBC captured the America East Swimming & Diving Championship in 2004, it was the first championship the University had in any sport since joining the conference. Since then, the Retrievers have yet to look back. Winner of the last five titles, the Retrievers set the America East record for most points scored by a men’s team in a championship with 929 points last year. UMBC earned eight gold medals, none of which were by graduating seniors. Sophomore Brad Reitz, who earned last year’s Most Outstanding Rookie award, took gold in the 200 butterfly, the 100 fly and was part of the America East Championship record-setting 800 freestyle relay.

Boston University will suffer from the loss of Eric Carlson who last year broke two school records in two days at the America East Championship. Two of Carlson’s relay teammates are returning in junior Arik Seiler, and sophomore Matt Rickett. With a strong fourth swimmer, Boston U. will hope to repeat the gold performance in the 800 freestyle and 400 medley relays. Highlighting the Terriers is returning diver Andre Watson, last year’s Most Outstanding Diver, who took first in the one meter diving events.

The Bearcats brought home last year’s Most Outstanding Swimmer Award in senior Brenno Varanda, who will be returning in a big way for the Bearcats. Varanda earned first place in the 400 IM, the 200 breaststroke, and the 200 IM in last year’s championship. Coupled with the return of junior Philip Dzieniszewski, who placed first in the 50 yard freestyle, Binghamton will be sure to pick up points at this year’s championship.

The Seawolves will have a strong leader in sophomore Lukasz Ochmanski who was the overall winner of last year’s mile. The relay team will look to improve on its second-place finish in the 400 yard freestyle graduating only two from that squad. Senior diver Julian Acevedo, who already holds school records in the one and three meter dive, is expected to generate valuable points for Stony Brook down the stretch.

Led by junior Jeremy Bender, the Maine Black Bears are looking to rebound from their fifth-place finish at last year’s championship. Bender had two top-eight finishes last year, finishing above his seed and landing seventh overall in the mile. After hosting last year, Maine will travel to Boston University for the 2009 America East Championships on February 19-22.