The Radcliffe swimming team will need a lot of help from many first-year swimmers if it is to match last year's undefeated season.
The aquawomen are the defending champions in this afternoon's 13th annual Radcliffe Invitational Swim Meet, but they lost two All-Americans, Connie Cervilla and Roanne Costin, from last year to graduation.
"I think this will be the best meet of the year," coach Mary McCabe said yesterday. "The girls are well-conditioned and ready to go. It should be a really tight meet between Mount Holyoke and Radcliffe."
Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Wellesley round out the field of today's meet.
Despite the loss of Cervilla and Costin, the team for the first time has some depth. There are 26 on this year's squad, including 11 freshmen, while last year's entire squad numbered only ten.
"Inexperienced competitive swimmers are improving so fast," McCabe said, "that we still do not know how our strength will be distributed."
Before classes started in September, the team spent a week of training at Southeastern Massachusetts University in North Dartmouth and the early start has shown good results already.
In an intrasquad meet on Nov. 1, times in five events bettered the qualifying standards for the Eastern Championships at the end of the season.
Freshman Laurie Downey churned her way to victory and a qualifying time in the 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard butterfly, and the 100-yard backstroke. She also swam backstroke in the 200-yard medley relay team which beat the qualifying time by over six seconds.
While swimming for her YWCA last spring, Downey took second in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke in the regional championships and qualified for the AAU Nationals in Dallas.
Diana Borden, also a freshman, captured the 100-yard breaststroke and swam that leg of the medley relay.
Although the times cannot be officially recognized, they do show potential for strong performances during the season.
Senior Nancy Sato and juniors Maureen Murphy and Kris Krendl are the team's tri-captains. Last year, Sato was ranked sixth in the East in both the one-meter and three-meter diving events.
Murphy, who swims in the 200-yard freestyle, 50-yard butterfly, and 100-yard butterfly, said, "The team looks really good. We have some upperclassmen out for the first time, and they're doing really well."
She added that the early training week was very beneficial in that it gave the girls a chance to work on style and technique. They now concentrate more on distance during practices because they can only use two of the six lanes in the IAB pool.
"I think we're going to have one of our best seasons," Krendl said yesterday.