CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Three teams were in contention at the America East women's swimming and diving championship last year, with Boston U. finishing just ahead of UMBC and New Hampshire. Coming into 2012-13, UMBC and New Hampshire both look poised to make a run at the title.
UMBC, which finished 37 point behind Boston U. a year ago, returns six of its nine all-conference performers. The loss of Abbey McKenney will hurt the Retrievers, after she came away with three individuals titles. To get back to the top, UMBC will again have to have a strong showing in the relays, where last year it won gold in four different events. Junior Klara Pavelkova (Prague, Czech Republic) was a part of three of those relay victories and also took gold in the 100 backstroke. Sophomore Katie Bean (Mechanicsvill, Va.) should also be a strong presence in the diving events.
Though it will be ineligible for the America East Championship, Boston U. is poised for another strong season. Nine of its 11 all-conference performers return, including senior diver Melinda Matyas (Budapest, Hungary), who was named the Most Oustanding Diver at last year's championship after sweeping both events. Senior Katie Radin (Hanover, Mass.) will again be a threat in the backstroke and medley events.
New Hampshire has a pair of standout returners coming back in sophomore Katie Mann (Prince George, B.C.) and junior Lauren McCandless (Macungie, Pa.). The duo has combined to win the last two Most Outstanding Rookie awards at the America East championship, with Mann also taking home the Most Oustanding Swimmer award this past year. Her strong performance included victories in the 200 and 400 yard individual medley events.
Vermont placed fourth last season, but was without an all-conference performer. The Catamounts turned in fourth place performances in both the 200 and 400 yard medley relays. Both of those relay teams were comprised of three freshmen, with Ashley Mitson (Southfield, Mich.) appearing in both races.
Maine finished sixth a year ago, helped by Junior Erica Smrcina (North Falmouth, Mass.) and her strong showing for in the 100 butterfly. Teammate Naja Harvey (Orono, Minn.) was the runner-up in the 100 breaststroke in her freshman campaign. They were the only two Black Bears to earn all-conference honors.
Binghamton returns two all-conference performers from a squad that finished last at the America East championship in 2011-12. Sophomore Corinne Zotter (Vestal, N.Y.) wrapped up a solid freshman campaign with a victory in the 100 breaststroke while senior Olivia Baczek (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) looks to improve on her runner-up performances in both the 200 back stroke and the 50 yard free.
Stony Brook will not swim this season, as the Seawolves are in a competitive hiatus. Renovations to the facilities will accompany the program's anticipated return in 2013-14.
A trio of squads will get the season underway on Saturday, when UMBC hosts Rider at 1:00 p.m., Boston U. hosts Masschusetts at 1:30 p.m and New Hampshire hosts Boston College at 2:00 p.m. Vermont will also compete on Saturday, continuing its season by welcoming Wagner. Maine (at Rhode Island) will open on October 26 and Binghamton (vs. Boston U.) will begin on the following day.
The season will culminate at the University of Maine for this year's America East championship which will take place February 14-17.