Boys swimming: Belchertown’s Luke Giguere repeats as double-winner at Central/West championships

By HANNAH BEVIS 

Staff Writer 

Published: 02-12-2023 9:43 PM

SPRINGFIELD – Entering Sunday’s Central/West Girls Swimming & Diving championships, Belchertown’s Luke Giguere wanted just one thing – well, two things, technically. 

The junior was the defending champion in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 100 backstroke, and he wanted to keep both of those titles for another year. He was more than up to the task, racing to a first-place finish in the 100 fly with a time of 51.11 seconds, a full 3.5 seconds faster than his next competitor, and snagged a second victory in the 100 back in 52.02 seconds.

More important than his times though, Giguere just wanted to win. 

“I honestly just wanted to win both my events. That was all that was on my mind, really,” Giguere said. “The winning was more important to me, to get points for the team.” 

Giguere’s two titles, coupled with a pair of monster first legs in the Orioles’ 200 medley and 400 free relays, helped Belchertown to a fourth place team finish with 166 points. The Orioles were just ahead of Amherst's fifth place finish (157 points). Holyoke also cracked the top 15, placing 14th overall with 47 points. Northampton (19 points) and Easthampton (17 points) placed 21st and 22nd, respectively. 

Amherst and Belchertown both started the meet off strong in the relays, with the Hurricanes’ team of Samuel Kennedy, Callum McDonald, Evander Maradiaga and Eric Lian swimming to a third-place time of 1:40.74, while the Belchertown relay team of Giguere, Brady Perkins, Ryan Gould and Ryan Shea finished just behind them in fourth with a 1:44.10. 

McDonald swam a personal best in the 200 freestyle, putting up a 1:49.51 and securing second place, a feat that had him treading water in excitement and disbelief after seeing his time flash up on the scoreboard. 

“Mainly shock,” McDonald said on his reaction to his 200 free time. “It’s been a long season of getting so close to my best times, and just looking up at that board and seeing that time – my best time has been the same for over a year. To finally see it broken, and not only that, but breaking the 1:50 mark – that was crazy. I knew probably deep down that I had it in me, but it still surprised me.” 

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McDonald also placed fifth in the 100 fly, touching in 55.35 seconds, just 0.15 seconds ahead of teammate Samuel Kennedy (55.50) in seventh. Kennedy also had a big day for the Hurricanes; besides his seventh place finish in the 100 fly, he finished fifth in the 100 backstroke (55.97) and was part the Hurricanes’ all-senior 200 medley and 400 free relay teams. 

At the other end of the pool, Easthampton’s Tyler Hetu had another exceptional day in the diving competition, placing second with a final score of 481.35 points, just five points behind first place Joel Picard. Hetu’s score was also another school record – the junior has broken the Eagles’ record seven times. 

“It's still just as exciting each time, but I’m just trying to keep going to bigger and better things,” Hetu said on his record-breaking day. “I had a lot of new dives this year. I'm trying to up my difficulty…. I've been trusting everything that I've been doing in practice and kind of had no expectations – can’t be mad with second.” 

Holyoke’s Brady Pete, seeded 14th in the 200 freestyle, exploded for a personal best of 1:55.03, good for sixth place. 

“I felt pretty good going into it. I had a similar time, a couple seconds over that, for states at a different meet,” Pete said. “I saw my time and was like ‘Oh, I definitely know I could beat that’ but I didn’t know I could beat it by that much.” 

Pete also placed ninth in the 500 free (5:27.65). His teammate Brady Pijar swam to a seventh place finish in the 100 back (58.17) and ninth place in the 100 fly (55.83). 

Both Amherst and Belchertown’s relay teams closed out the meet strong – the Orioles’ team of Giguere, Ryan Shea, Derek Gould and Ryan Gould placed third overall in the 400 free relay (3:25.16) and Amherst’s quartet of Maradiaga, Lian, Kennedy and McDonald was just three seconds behind in fifth place (3:28.93). 

Belchertown freshman Ryan Shea placed eighth in the 200 free (1:57.22) while his teammate Ryan Gould broke a minute in the 100 back (59.49) for ninth place. Amherst’s Lian also cracked the top 10 in the 50 free, swimming to a 10th place finish with a 23.41. 

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