At least 10 entries on the swimming and diving record board at the Stanley Wallace Pool in Orono will be updated following the University of Maine’s impressive swimming recently at the America East Conference Championships.
Coach Susan Lizzotte’s Black Bear women established records in the 800 freestyle relay (7 minutes, 29.8 seconds), 400 free relay (3:26.38), 200 medley relay (1:42.45) and 200 free relay (1:33.1) as well as the 50 free (22.89), 100 free (49.48) and the 200 free (1:48.77).
The UMaine men set records in the 400 medley relay (3:25.22), 400 free relay (3:05.78) and in the 200 breaststroke (2:03.6).
“I am a believer and we tell our team that the first person in the water at a championship meet sets the tone for the championship,” Lizzotte said.
Juliana McDonald processed the message and responded with a 1:48.7 leadoff leg in the meet-opening 800 free relay. Her performance was a UMaine and America East record. The graduate student won individual gold medals in the 50 free (22.89), 100 free (49.48) and the 200 free (1:49) in addition to anchoring the 200 medley relay and leading off the winning 200 free relay.
“It started Thursday night with Juliana’s swim and continued throughout the meet,” Lizzotte said of her team’s fast swimming.
Lizzotte said she could not recall the last time a UMaine team won four relay medals in the championship meet.
“Other coaches told me they liked our spirit on deck and our approach to swimming,” Lizzotte said. “We were easygoing on deck and having fun. In the pool, we swam focused and confident.”
McDonald reflected on the season as she and 17 of her teammates prepared to depart for the ECAC Championship Meet set for Friday through Sunday at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
“It has been refreshing. I finally found what I love about the sport and focused on it,” she said. “Before I was so focused on how my swimming compared to others. I found what makes swimming special for me and I decided I was going to run with it.”
Actually, it was following last season that the Bangor High graduate began her preparation for this season.
“My weaknesses were out of the water. I was not strong in the weight room. I did not like the way I felt in the water,” said McDonald, who knew she could eat healthier.
“The little things I began to piece together and work on during the off season.”
According to Lizzotte, McDonald worked diligently and conscientiously during the offseason and immediately impressed the coaching staff during the early season.
“I knew this season was going to be different because of the changes,” McDonald stated.
McDonald wound up standing on the podium at the America East Championship closing ceremony to receive the Performer of the Meet honor.
“I do not know the last time a swimmer from Maine received the award. It felt good to be representing Maine,” she said.
At the ECAC competition, McDonald will compete in the backstroke and individual medley.
“I am really excited about it and I am looking forward to swimming different events. I do not have expectations for myself. I am excited to just swim,” she said.
Lizzotte also lauded teammates Spencer Lindsley of Bath and Caroline Strolic, a sophomore from Arizona.
Spencer has had the year of his swimming career. At the AE meet, the senior turned a 21.9 in the 50 free, a 1:45.8 200 free and a 47.5 100 free. On the 400 free relay, Spencer split 46.8.
In the championships, Strolic swam a 2:06 200 individual medley, a 2:20.1 200 breaststroke and a 4:31 400 individual medley.