HS swimming notebook: In-person meets return for winter season

  • Brady Pete, of South Hadley, swims the backstroke during a meet against Holyoke on Jan. 31, 2020, at Holyoke High School. STAFF FILE PHOTO

  • Evan Harrington, of Belchertown, swims to a second place in the 100-yard backstroke during a meet against Northampton on Jan. 10, 2020, in Belchertown. STAFF FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 12/8/2021 8:37:36 PM
Modified: 12/8/2021 8:37:09 PM

Ready for a pool party?

After a year of a delayed season, virtual meets and ferrying masks across the pool, swimming will return to Western Massachusetts pools in as close to a normal manner as anything can this year.

Last winter, or spring, or Fall II, however you want to classify it swimming cribbed together a season the best it could last year. Athletes competed in virtual meets where their times in their own pool were compared with opponents’ from a similar time frame. Contact among the athletes and coaches was limited. Racers had to keep masks in plastic bags while they were racing and put them on immediately after exiting the water.

“Last year was tough. We actually had rules discouraging cheering to lessen potential transmission and the meets were both quiet and hard for some of the kids to get excited for,” Northampton coach Jacob Wingfield said. “It was hard on the whole to do normal team activities and feel like a true team, especially competing in fall 2 with so few other teams. This year our team is looking forward immensely to not only cheering for our team in real competition, but for team bonding activities as simple as team bus rides together.”

Dual meets are set to begin later this week across the PVIAC’s three leagues: the Minutemen (largest schools), Patriot and Constitution (smaller schools and programs). The Central/West sectional tournaments will return Feb. 12 and 13 following a year’s absence, and qualified athletes can compete in the state tournaments. Holyoke is the only area school aligned in Division 1, while Amherst, Belchertown, Easthampton, Northampton and South Hadley will race in Division 2.

“ I am definitely excited to go back to a more normal format this season. I feel like it will drive the competition up and make the student athletes want to perform even better than they did last year,” Belchertown girls coach Matthew Nodell said. “I also think it will be a relief/mental helper for some to get back to some more normalcy while obviously staying safe still.”

Here’s a look at returning league all-stars and other swimmers to watch:

AMHERST – The Hurricanes did not compete last season.

BELCHERTOWN – Senior Evan Harrington and sophomore Luke Giguere will lead the Orioles. Harrington posted the fourth-fastest time in WMass in the 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 51.82 seconds) and No. 6 in the 500 free (5:09.25). Giguere had top-10 marks in seven separate events last season.

EASTHAMPTON – Junior Kathryn Geertsma returns for the Eagles. She proved a versatile swimmer across multiple strokes. 

HOLYOKE – Junior Miranda Brunette is back to pace the Purple Knights.

NORTHAMPTON – Senior Henry Bayne and junior Sydney Abild will be cornerstones for the Blue Devils. Bayne was the second-strongest diver in the area last season, posting a 178.4 and averaged 153.86 points, the fourth most in the area.

Abild clocked Western Mass’ quickest 100 butterfly (1:01.08) and 100 breaststroke (1:09.21) and third-fastest 200 individual medley (2:23.1) and 500 free (5:41.66).

SOUTH HADLEY – The Bradys, junior Brady Pete and freshman Brady Pijar, will give the Tigers boys squad multifaceted leadership, while junior Eva Bartosz, freshman Laura Brown and sophomore Trinity Roy will pace the girls team.


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