Central Connecticut Tabbed NEC Preseason Favorite

Press Release courtesy of the NEC.

Three-time defending champion Central Connecticut was voted as the unanimous pick to win the Northeast Conference (NEC) swimming and diving title yet again by the league’s head coaches.

The Blue Devils are poised to become the third NEC school to four-peat in swimming and diving. Last year’s runner-up Bryant was tabbed second, followed by Wagner in the third spot. Saint Francis U was picked fourth and LIU Brooklyn fifth, followed in order by Sacred Heart, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis Brooklyn.

CCSU has won five NEC crowns under the leadership of five-time NEC Coach of the Year Bill Ball. The Blue Devils return the NEC’s Most Outstanding Swimmer in senior Maddy Garber (Milford, MA/Milford), who won a pair of gold medals in the 100 & 200 breaststroke last year, setting new conference records in both events. The three-time NEC Swimmer of the Week went on to compete at the NCAA Championships in both of her specialties. The reigning NEC Outstanding Diver Annemarie Durham (East Lyme, CT/East Lyme) is also back for her senior season after sweeping the one and three meter events with meet record scores at the 2017 NEC Championship. She was a five-time NEC Diver of the Week. Junior Aiden Devers (North Attleboro, MA/North Attleboro) was a double winner, collecting gold in the 400 IM and 500 freestyle races a year ago. Alexis Fredricks (Grace Island, NY/Mount St. Mary’s Academy) comes off an NEC Rookie of the Year campaign that saw her medal in three individual events, including a second place finish in the 200 backstroke.

There are a number of notable returnees around the NEC, including a pair of individual event winners from LIU Brooklyn. LIU junior Naomi Lacroix-Moreau (Montreal, Quebec/Cegep John Abbott College) won the 200 butterfly at the 2017 NEC meet, while sophomore teammate Briana Vega (Brooklyn, NY) captured the 50 free. Wagner senior Maddie McNichol (Downingtown, PA/Henderson) will look to defend her 1,650 free title.

Bryant junior Kelci Abernethy (Chandler, AZ/Perry) will set her sights on reclaiming the NEC Outstanding Diver honor she earned as a freshman after being narrowly edged out by Durham in the one and three meter competition last year.

Saint Francis U veteran Katie Lafferty (Bremen, IN/Bremen) is back for her senior campaign. The NEC champion in the 500 free in 2016, she earned a bronze medal in the 50 frees and posted fourth place finishes in the 100 free and 200 free at the 2017 event.

The 2018 NEC Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships will be held from Feb. 21-24 at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, NY.


Wagner has finished in the top-three at the NEC Championship in each of the last ten years. The Seahawks won it all in 2014. Bryant has a five-year streak of top-three showings, including last year’s runner-up finish.

CCSU’s 264.5 point margin of victory last year at the NEC Championship was the biggest spread since UMBC won by exactly 300 points back in 2003.

Garber has won five individual NEC Championship events over the course of her career in New Britain, the most of any NEC returnee.

2017-18 Northeast Conference
Women’s Swimming & Diving
Preseason Coaches Poll

1. Central Connecticut (7)
2. Bryant (1)
3. Wagner
4. Saint Francis U
5. LIU Brooklyn
6. Sacred Heart
7. Mount St. Mary’s
8. St. Francis Brooklyn

First place votes in parentheses

About The Northeast Conference
Now in its 37th year, the Northeast Conference is an NCAA Division I collegiate athletic association consisting of 10 institutions of higher learning located throughout six states. Media coverage of the NEC extends to four of the largest markets in the United States – New York (#1), Pittsburgh (#22), Baltimore (#26), and Hartford/New Haven (#30).  Founded in 1981 as the basketball-only ECAC Metro Conference, the NEC has grown to sponsor 22 championship sports for men and women and now enjoys automatic access to 14 different NCAA Championships. NEC member institutions include Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, LIU Brooklyn, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis U and Wagner. For more information on the NEC, visit the league’s official website (www.northeastconference.org) and digital network (www.necfrontrow.com), or follow the league on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, all @NECsports.

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