With spring here and warmer weather finally seeping back into Maine, it may seem an odd time to go to Florida. However, for Midcoast swimmers Tyler Arndt and Lianne McCluskey, the timing could not be better.

Although it may sound fun, the two swimmers are not going to the Sunshine State for warm beaches and sunny patios, they are going there to work. From Wednesday through Saturday, April 7-10 the duo will compete in the YMCA Short Course Swimming Championships in Fort Lauderdale.

McCluskey and Arndt both compete for the Penobscot Bay YMCA Sailfish, as well as their high school teams of Camden Hills and Rockland respectively.

“This is it,” said Sailfish coach Hodding Carter. “This is what they have been shooting for all season long.”

This will be McCluskey’s fourth trip to the YMCA nationals and Arndt’s second.

McCluskey has qualified for the 100-yard butterfly, the 100-yard freestyle, the 100-yard breaststroke and the 50-yard freestyle. Arndt has qualified for the 50 free and a time trial which could give him a chance to qualify for next year’s nationals.

To say qualifying for the nationals was a goal of McCluskey’s this season might be an understatement. Coach Carter said the national meet is almost the culmination of the senior’s high school swimming career “because it’s been her goal for the last four years to get there and try to get into the finals [of one or more events] and I think this year she actually has a real shot at doing that,” he said.

A key for McCluskey is that all season she has been swimming nonstop for both the YMCA and Camden Hills squads. Carter said she has not gotten much of a chance to rest this year, but still has done well.

This season she won the 50 free and 100 fly titles at both the recent state and Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B meets, was named the top female swimmer in Class B and placed first in the New England YMCA 15-18 girls 50-yard freestyle, among other accolades in both high school and YMCA swimming in recent months.

Now, she has had a chance to rest and perhaps reach her full potential. “I think she is going to be pleasantly surprised and I’m really psyched for this to happen,” Carter said.

According to Carter, Arndt has promise for the nationals as well. “The beauty about Tyler is that he is this guy that came out of nowhere just two years ago,” Carter said.

The coach said Arndt swam some before getting to the Pen Bay YMCA, but nothing too serious, and he has gone from solid swimmer to “a national caliber swimmer in an instant,” Carter said. “I think he is going to end up surprising some people with his sprinting.”

This year, Arndt won the 100 backstroke in the state Class B high school competition and  won the 15-18 50 free at New England YMCA meet .

However, at the national meet, the competition will be steep.

Both of the local athletes will match up against future Olympians and top USA swimmers, Carter said. “They are going against the real thing and if they can just get within reach of them it means they are at that level.”

Carter is confident both swimmers will do their best. He admitted there was a lot of pressure for Arndt last year, being his first year year at the nationals, but “he has sort of learned to handle that pressure this year and has picked up some techniques,” Carter said.

“I think he’s going to go down there and not just get his best time but move into a higher rank of swimmer so that will really set him up for next season.”

With McCluskey, Carter might have some doubt but it is still filled with faith. He said that in Maine, “Lianne in the 50 freestyle really doesn’t get beat. All of a sudden she is going to this place where she’s not the top seed so it’s a daunting task for her but I really feel like this year she’s in a frame of mind where I don’t think that is going to set her back any.”

However, with her experience and talent, the coach sees McCluskey going far and will reach her goal. To him, the national finals are “the icing on the cake she is looking for,” he said. “These times she has been making in practice the last four weeks means she is going to make it to the [national] finals. If she does what she is doing in practice, she will be there.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.