This year’s Maine State Meet between Colby, Bates, Bowdoin and the University of Maine held at Bowdoin College afforded UMaine’s Susan Lizzotte an opportunity to build the capacity of the Black Bears to race in events other than their primary strokes and distances.

“We needed to see people in certain events. We have a very talented freshmen class. We have been limited in our dual meets in how we use them. Our focus was to swim fast, although we trained hard all week,” Lizzotte said.

She solicited input from the swimmers as she considered adjustments to the Black Bears’ entries.

“The swimmers owned what they swam. Everyone had good swims and the team chemistry was excellent. We saw some swims that will provide possibilities for America East,” Lizzotte said.

Freshman Andy Sprague, who had been primarily a freestyler in first-semester dual meets, swam 2 minutes, 4 seconds in the 200 butterfly and recorded a 54-second 100 fly. Not only was Lizzotte impressed with his times, she noted particularly his effective streamlining off the walls.

“I was pleased to see he applied what has been a point of focus in practice,” she said.

Brunswick’s Lynsie Russell, in her first year of swimming for the Black Bears, continues to impress Lizzotte. “She is a wild card for us in a good way.”

With sharp performances this season in shorter distances, Russell stretched to the 400 individual medley at Bowdoin, finishing at 4:41.8, and to the 200 individual medley (2:12.2). The former Bath YMCA swimmer finished third in both events.

Juliana McDonald, during her career at UMaine, has been one of the program’s elite 50- and 100-yard freestylers. She now holds the fastest time this year for Maine in the 200 free (1:57.9).

“The 200 free is a new world for her. She is excited about the event, and I like the way she swims it,” her coach admitted.

While McDonald impressed Lizzotte in the 200 free, the 100 free swim of Bangor’s Steve Comeau also pleased the Black Bears coach.

“He is doing everything to meet his goals for this season,” Lizzotte said. “He is an exciting kid to have in our program.”

Comeau’s 50.9 in the 100 free at Bowdoin is less than a second off his rested and tapered end-of-the-year swim (50.3) last season. Comeau also swam a 57.8 in the 100 butterfly.

Freshman Jacob Ketch of Old Town split 48.8 in the 400 free relay and 21.8 in the 200 medley relay.

“He is a very focused and determined relay swimmer. He comes back well and then fights hard to the finish. He is a key member of our relays,” Lizzotte said.

“We have really been working on relay starts and measuring the times for our relay starts. We were pretty good with our starts at Bowdoin,” she added.

The Black Bear women won the 400 free relay at 3:36.9. Emily Borger (55), Rita Chen (53.7), Juliana Mc Donald (54.2) and Emma Blair (53.8) defeated runner-up Bowdoin.

Chen has not been a regular on Maine’ s “A” relay. However, with the sophomore’s performance, Lizzotte acknowledged relay options have expanded as UMaine prepares for the second half of the season.

Bangor’s Kyle Adams won the 1-meter diving.

The Black Bears return to competition Jan. 20, 2018, against Bowdoin.

Bates College of Lewiston won the the men’s and women’s competition in the State of Maine meet. Sam Alvarado, who raced last season for the Ellsworth Eagles, recorded a 5:04.4 in the 500 free for the Bobcats.

Groth sets records

At the USA AT&T Swimming Nationals in Columbus, Ohio, Zane Grothe set American records in the 500-yard free with a 4:07.2 and a 1,650-yard finish of 14:18.2.

Grothe’s 100-yard splits in the 500 included a 47.5, 50.4, 50.3, 49.6 and a 49.1.

In the 1,650, the former Auburn University swimmer opened with a 4:17.4 500 free, then swam the the next 1,000 in 8:40.4.

Husson’s Sarett wins title

Husson University senior Lara Sarett won the 200 breaststroke for the Eagles at the GNAC championship held at Simmons College.

The senior also was one of two swimmers at the championship to finish under the previous GNAC record in the 50 breaststroke. Sarett placed second at 31.1, the seventh fastest time this season in NCAA Division lll.

Sarett also qualified in the 100 breaststroke (1:07.3) for the Eastern College Athletic Conference Championship scheduled at Rutgers University in February.

Short strokes

Readfield’s Mary Erb, a sophomore at Connecticut College, has recorded the third fastest Division lll time in the 50 breaststroke (30.4) this season, according to rankings released by College Swimming.

Husson University freshman Thomas Cote collected his second school record when he finished the 100-yard backstroke in 1:05.4. Earlier this season, he established a new 100-yard butterfly record.

Follow BDN Maine Sports on Facebook for the latest in Maine high school and college sports.