The Central Connecticut women's swimming and diving team, winners of the past three Northeast Conference championships, was voted as the unanimous favorite to defend the title by the league's coaches it was announced by the conference office on Tuesday afternoon. The Blue Devils received seven first-place votes in the preseason poll.
Bryant was last season's runner up and collected the the lone remaining first-place vote. Wagner was third, followed by Saint Francis U and LIU Brooklyn to round out the top five.
Head coach Bill Ball has been named the league's coach of the year five times and has guided the Central program to five conference titles during his tenure. The Blue Devils return three major award winners in their quest for a fourth straight NEC crown. Senior Maddy Garber was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer at last season's NEC Championships after winning gold in the 100 & 200 breaststroke. Garber, a five-time NEC individual champion, set the league record in both events last year and competed at the NCAA Championships. Senior Annemarie Durham is also back for CCSU after being named the NEC Outstanding Diver. Durham won the one- and three-meter dive events and qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships. Sophomore Alexis Fredricks won the NEC Rookie of the Year after medaling in three individual events at the championships, including a second-place finish in the 200 backstroke.
Central opens the 2017-18 campaign on Friday, Oct. 6, at home with the Alumni Meet at 6:00 p.m. in the Jack Suydam Natatorium. The Blue Devils host St. Bonaventure and Sacred Heart the following weekend, with the action beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 13. The event continues on Oct. 14 at 11:00 a.m.
The 2018 NEC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships will be held from Feb. 21-24 at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, NY.