Warriors feel that they will maintain solid presence at Saturday's meet
By Brendan Driscoll/Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Eastern Connecticut State University will be hoping that it's a case of "been there, done that" when the Warriors compete in the 12th Little East Conference Championship Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth's Tripp Center pool Saturday at 11 a.m.
The meet will be broadcast live and later archived on LittleEast.tv.
At right: Junior Erin McVeigh is Eastern's top seed in the 200 and 500 yard freestyle and 200 butterfly at Saturday's LEC Championships. (Colleen King photo)
Eastern hopes to continue its strong presence in the eight-team championships, where it has claimed a solid second place behind perennial champion Keene State College each of the past four years. Keene won its sixth straight title and ninth overall a year ago, with the Warriors second with 274 points, 63 more than third-place finisher Western Connecticut State University.
The Warriors have competed against each of the other seven squads in the meet this year except for Keene State, and has posted impressive wins over each.
Head coach Maureen Fahey, now in her 17th year, says that she expects her athletes to do their best on Saturday and produce their fastest times of the year, with the final standings of the championships of secondary appearance.
In the meet, the maximum 18 members of the 24-person roster will compete. According to Fahey, they are all "poised to swim fast. Hopefully, they can all record their best times of the season."
The top two individuals and first two relays are accorded All-LEC honors and first 12 individuals and top seven relays score points. The meet involves 16 events: 12 individual swimming and two relay events and two diving competitions. Eastern does not sponsor diving.
At left: Freshman Katie King is seeded second in the 100 yard breaststroke and fourth in the 200 breaststroke for Saturday's LEC Championships. (Colleen King photo)
One swimmer Fahey had high hopes for Saturday was junior Jacqueline Tromp (Bohemia, NY), who has high individual and team expectations for herself. Said Tromp, "I would like to swim my fastest times of the season so far in all of my events, which include the 100 back, 200 back, and 400 IM." In the previous two years, Tromp has scored points for Eastern in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke, including a fifth place finish in 2010 in the 100 yard backstroke. Tromp also hopes that the team can show support for each other regardless of how they perform as individuals.
Tromp expects the team to place very highly in this championship because of the additional competition which includes LEC members Keene, host UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College, Plymouth State and Western Connecticut, along with Bridgewater State and Westfield State from the Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference. Tromp added, "There is more competition, which will give us more motivation to do better then the other teams. I think the increase in adrenaline will help everyone improve in their races."
Last year in the conference championship, Eastern finished second in 400 freestyle relay. Three of those swimmers make up Eastern's strong junior class. Last year, Erin McVeigh (Windsor), Marissa Colley (East Haven) and Becky Odgers (Shelton) finished second with a time of 3:45.75 in the finals, three seconds behind the winning relay.
Keene swimmers are seeded first in all but one event and have earned the top two seeds in ten. For Eastern, McVeigh is seeded first among Eastern swimmers and among the top five overall among all swimmers in the 200 and 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly. Freshman Katie King (Barkhamsted) is seeded second in the 100 breaststroke and fourth in the 200 breaststroke, freshman Macaire Jones (Danbury) third in both the 50 and 100 freestyle, Colley fourth in the 200 backstroke, Odgers fourth in the 1,000 freestyle, senior Stephanie O'Kelly (Westport) third in the 200 breaststroke, and junior Michelle Schapp (Torrington) fourth in the 100 backstroke.
The Warriors hope to accumulate many points in the 200 breaststroke with O'Kelly, Katie King and sophomore Rachael Thatcher (Newington) seeded among the top six, the 100 freestyle with Macaire Jones, first-year junior Morgan Charlow (Branford) and sophomore Abby Arisco (Wallingford) among the top seven, and the 200 butterfly with McVeigh, Arisco and freshman Heather Avery (Wethersfield) among the top ten.
In three individual events last year, McVeigh totaled 27 points (the most among returnees), Schapp 23, and Odgers 21. Gone from a year ago are last year's top two point-producers in Nadine Menard (34 points) and Amanda Rivers (31) .
No one who has previously earned All-LEC honors in an individual event is on this year's roster, although seniors Colleen King (Barkamsted), McVeigh, Colley, Odgers, Schapp, sophomore Kayla Smoragiewicz (Smoragiewicz) and Thatcher all competed on relays which gained second-place finishes a year ago and contributed 26 points apiece. The makeup of this year's 200 medley (seeded second) and 400 freestyle (seeded fourth) relays have not yet been announced.
The team should be at its peak performance due to their hard training over the past few weeks. Fahey is excited to see what the teams' times will look like when they get to compete against the rest of the Little East Conference.