Friday, May 16, 2014
Northampton sophomore Erin Voss has fit a career’s worth of accomplishments into only two high school seasons.
“I swim year-round on a club team and I practice really hard to improve, but I couldn’t have expected this much success so early,” Voss said.
But after winning a state title as a freshman, her expectations changed some before this season.
“This season went about as I expected,” she said. “I didn’t post my best times, but I wasn’t fully tapered for them. So I did about as well as I could have imagined. It was a really good season.”
After winning two sectional titles and a pair of state titles, Voss has been named the Hampshire Gazette Girls Swimming & Diving Player of the Year.
At the Western Massachusetts championship meet, Voss won the 200 free in 1 minute, 51.16 seconds. She then established a meet record (56.88) in the 100 back.
“When I get to the championship meets, I don’t really remember much because I pretty much zone out,” she said. “I’ve done these races so many times that my body’s accustomed to it. I can usually feel in my stroke if I’m doing well in a race.”
Voss also helped the 200 medley relay team to a first-place finish at 1:53.69.
“Obviously you can’t look at any title as something that’s guaranteed to happen, but Erin always puts herself in a great position to accomplish these things,” Northampton coach Jim Hirtle said. “She’s been dedicated to the sport for quite a while.”
The 40 individual points she amassed helped propel the Blue Devils to their second straight championship.
“It was definitely a team effort all season, and it was really fun to be a part of the team at the western Mass. meet,” she said. “We always push each other to do our best, and it always helps to have your teammates there to encourage you.”
The next weekend, Voss claimed state Division 2 crowns in the 200 free (1:49.68) and repeated in the 500 free (4:52.99), making her a three-time state champion.
Both times represented western Mass. records.
“I trained through both (championship meets) because I was focusing for my end-of-season national meet,” Voss said. “I rested a little before states, but not at all for western Mass. I didn’t have any timed goals for sectionals, I just wanted to place as high as I could. For states, I was pretty pleased with the times I put up.”
During the regular season, Voss posted the best PVIAC time in three events — 200 free, 500 free and 100 back.
“I always put everything into every race,” she said. “I know I have it behind me whenever I step on the block. In practice I never want to give up and I push through any trouble. That gives me a lot of confidence going into a race.”
Both freestyle times should make the cut when All-American times are released in July.
She also ranked no worse than third in five other events. She had the second-fastest time in the 200 individual medley and 100 breaststroke, and was third in the 50 free, 100 butterfly and 100 free.
“Freestyle and backstroke are her areas of expertise, but she’s also a strong flyer and her breaststroke has come along as well,” Hirtle said. “She really has no weaknesses in the pool.”
Voss said, “I’m constantly trying to improve my other strokes to be the most well-rounded swimmer I can.”
That well-roundedness is reflected in her five individual and one relay school records.
“We talk about what I need her to do to help the team,” Hirtle said. “There are plenty of strategic situations where she has to deal with (Easthampton’s) Jessica Harper or (Belchertown’s) Bryanna Veroneau, and Erin always accepts those challenges.”
Hirtle, who worked with Voss as a young kid, was also the interim coach last year at the Holyoke YMCA. He said there’s no big secret to her success.
“She has a great feel for the water and a very strong stroke,” Hirtle said. “Her height and long reach certainly help. And her work ethic is always crucial.”
All those factors lead to higher goals, such as trying to make Olympic trial cuts in the summer of 2016.
“I want to focus on my training and keep moving on to higher-lever meets,” she said. “Just continue to push myself and see how far I can take it.”
Because of that desire to further her career, Voss’ sophomore campaign may represent the conclusion of her high school swimming career.
“It’s going to be a tough decision, but I do want to move on and compete in some high-end national meets,” she said. “It would be very hard to train for those and still compete at my best during the high school season. It’s just a timing thing.”
Hirtle said, “Obviously we’d love to have her back along with our other solid swimmers. We’ll wait and see. One person doesn’t make a team, but she certainly makes it easier to win.”
Michael Wilkinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kerry Fleming, junior, Northampton
Jessica Harper, senior, Easthampton
Katie Helly, senior, Northampton
Maggie Miller, freshman, Northampton
Kristyn Popowski, sophomore, Holyoke Catholic
Joslyn Sullivan, junior, Amherst
Riley Synan, junior, Belchertown
Haley Synan, freshman, Belchertown
Kaitlin Travers, senior, Northampton
Bryanna Veroneau, senior, Belchertown
Erin Voss, sophomore, Northampton
Mackenzie Werenski, sophomore, South Hadley
Maela Whitcomb, junior, Northampton
Anna Craig, senior, Holyoke Catholic
Erica Dean, sophomore, Northampton
Anna Desimone, senior, Holyoke Catholic
Sophia Dillon-Davidson, freshman, Amherst
Ella Douglas, sophomore, Amherst
Lilly Etlinger, freshman, Northampton
Sabrina Foster, freshman, Easthampton
Corey GerberDolan, junior, Amherst
Audra Hale, freshman, Belchertown
Helen Hale, junior, Belchertown
Sierra Kenney, freshman, Belchertown
Marina LaCharite, senior, Easthampton
Sadie Logan, sophomore, Amherst
Vicky Miller, sophomore, Northampton
Claire Nauman, senior, Belchertown
Hannah Nelson, junior, South Hadley
Cailey Newton, junior, South Hadley
Sierra Skaza, junior, Belchertown
Emma Thibault, junior, Amherst
Jayde Thomas, freshman, South Hadley
Kaitlin Travers, senior, Northampton
April Weintraub, sophomore, Amherst
Christine Winberg, freshman, Holyoke Catholic