Blue Devils Picked to Defend Crown in NEC Coaches' Poll

The Central Connecticut swimming and diving team was chosen by the Northeast Conference coaches as the team to beat in 2008-09, as released this afternoon. The Blue Devils received all six first place votes.

St. Francis (PA) and Wagner were chosen as second and third for the upcoming season, just as they finished in the NEC Championships a year ago. The same is true for Sacred Heart and Mount St. Mary's, who finished in fourth and fifth last season and have now been predicted to finish fourth and fifth in this year's poll. Bryant will be a new member of the Northeast Conference for this year's swimming season, and was picked sixth by the coaches. St. Francis (NY) rounded out the poll, selected seventh.

At the 2008 NEC Championship, the Blue Devils took home victories in 18 out of the 20 events. They went on to win the meet with 649.5 points to St. Francis (PA)'s second place total of 457. CCSU and head coach Bill Ball also went on to win the ECAC Championship a year ago.

Despite the loss of many talented swimmers and divers, included last year's NEC Swimmer of the year Lindsey Snyder, Central brings back a talented group of returners. Senior captain Erin Crowley was an NEC champion in three events last season and returns to lead the Blue Devils to another championship. Junior Alex Huffman, as well as sophomores Alyssa Carlucci and Megan McGorry will need to step up this season to lead a younger CCSU squad. Huffman was named NEC Rookie of the Meet in 2008, recording a third place finish in the 1650 free. Carlucci broke two Blue Devil freshman records at the ECAC meet last year and was an All-NEC second team honoree. McGorry also received All-NEC honors for her second place finish in the 200 IM.

Ball and diving coach Dave Maliar were named Coach of the Year and Diving Coach of the Year for CCSU's performance at last season's NEC Championship. This season former CCSU swim star Jaime Crowley will return to New Britain as an assistant coach for the Blue Devils.

Central will begin its competitive season this Saturday, October 25 when they travel to Maine to take on the host Black Bears and Northeastern at 2:00 p.m.