BIDDEFORD — The University of New England swim team began its 11th season this October. But for the first time in the program’s short, but successful history, someone other than Kate Roy was leading the team.

Roy’s were difficult shoes to fill, as her teams won more than half of their meets in all but her first season. But halfway through her first year as Roy’s replacement, current UNE interim head coach Kate Foley has so far kept the Nor’easters swimming right along.

Foley, who swam for UNE from 2006-08, has helped guide the Nor’easters to a 4-1 record at the midway point of the season.

“It’s going really well. Anytime you have a transition from a coach that’s been at any school for a long time, it’s a lot of work for everybody to get used to each other,” said Foley. “The team has really bonded together, we work well together. I have a couple of great assistant coaches that are medical students at the school, so we all communicate well.”

Foley said the biggest thing for her coming in as the interim coach was to keep the same expectations that she remembered Roy having for the program. That meant success both in the pool and in the classroom.

Foley said she has combined what she learned from Roy and what she learned in her time as a student at UNE to be able to jump right in as Roy’s replacement.

“It was like going home, kind of,” said Foley. “Going back to your alma mater, really having that connection to them, was great. Just being able to say ”˜I know what it’s like to be a student-athlete at UNE’ and ”˜I know what it’s like to be a student at UNE,’ and really understand the experience, I think that helped with the transition point of it.”

There has seemingly been no transition in how the Nor’easters have swam from previous years to this year, as the team has gotten of too a fast start that has them on pace for a typically successful season.

That fast start will be challenged when UNE hosts Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 16, as it will have been nearly two months since the Nor’easters’ last meet. However, Foley said she trusts that her swimmers will keep working out diligently during the break as they are dedicated to the sport and their team and hold themselves accountable.

Leading UNE’s charge are senior captains Kelly Dolyak and Emily Zeimetz. Foley said Dolyak is one her top performers in the freestyle events, but also is willing to swim in whatever events the team needs her in. Zeimetz is a consistent performer who Foley said is consistently getting better.

Other Nor’easters who had standout first halves of the season include sophomore transfer Lindsey Thomsen, a Gorham, Maine native, who broke the school and Campus Center Pool record in the 50-yard breaststroke. Freshman Kayla Burgess has been one of UNE’s top butterfliers at the onset of her college career. Saco native Stephanie Pare is gaining strides as one of UNE’s better backstrokers, and Foley said “I’m excited to see what she can do.”

The Nor’easters still have five regular meets and The Maine Event meet at Bates before the New England Championships in mid-February. Foley said everything the team does from here on out will be building for that final meet.

“I’m really looking for a lot of very fast swims and making sure that we have a really strong showing at the New England Championships in February,” said Foley. “I really want a strong showing. I can’t predict what other people are going to swim or what they’re going to do on other teams. I’m looking for best times from my team.

“I expect they will continue the UNE tradition of either getting awarded the sportsmanship award or being recognized as some of the best sportsmen at the event. UNE has a very long tradition of just making sure that they treat everybody with kindness and respect.”

— Sports Staff Writer Wil Kramlich can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @WilTalkSports.

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