The Central Connecticut swimming and diving team was picked to finish fourth in the Northeast Conference by the league's head coaches, the conference announced Wednesday. The Blue Devils have finished in the top-two at the championships in the last five years and have not finished below the third spot in 13 out of 14 years - since Central became a member of the NEC in 1999.
After leading the rankings in the first two days of the 2012 NEC Championships, Saint Francis (PA) edged the Blue Devils by one point to take the win. In the last three championships, Saint Francis (PA) and CCSU have taken the one and two spots.
Led by Head Coach Bill Ball, Central returns two NEC Swimmers of the Week in senior Taylor Friedmann and junior Helene Neuhaus. Friedmann earned top-three finishes in all seven of her events at the 2012 NEC Championships and set the NEC record in the 500 yard freestyle in 2011. She has earned gold in the event the past three years in a row. Neuhaus also had an impressive showing at the NEC Championships, taking top-five spots in each of her seven events. In June, Neuhaus qualified for the USA Winter Nationals in Austin, TX, a meet that will include a number of Olympic athletes who competed at the London Games this past summer.
Central also returns seven All-NEC team members from last year including senior Katie Lang who finished in the top four in each of her six events at the championships.
After losing diver Madison Vestergaard to graduation, CCSU returns only one diver, sophomore Kaitlyn Dwyer, and brings on three newcomers to fill the team. Central has won the NEC Diver of the Meet accolade nine times since 1999.
Saint Francis (PA) finished first in the poll, receiving five first-place votes, followed by Bryant and Wagner who tied for second with one first-place vote each. Following Central was Mount St. Mary's, St. Francis (NY) and Sacred Heart.
The Blue Devils kick into action later this month with the Central Connecticut Diving Invitational on Oct. 20 and against Duquesne and St. Francis on Oct. 27.