Northampton freshman Ruby Gottlieb wins WMass 100-yard butterfly title

  • Ruby Gottlieb, of Northampton, competes in the girls 100-yard butterfly during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Maggie Thibault, of Amherst-Pelham, competes in the girls 200-yard individual medley during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Brielle Bergeron, of Easthampton, competes in the girls 1-meter dive during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Haley Synan, of Belchertown, competes in the girls 200-yard medley relay during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Abbie Murphy, of Northampton, competes in the girls 200-yard freestyle during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Haley Synan, of Belchertown, competes in the girls 500-yard freestyle during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF/DAN LITTLE

  • Amelia Craig, of Easthampton, competes in the girls 1-meter dive during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Jordyn Vandergrift, of Northampton, competes in the girls 1-meter dive during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Regan Thibault, of Amherst-Pelham, competes in the girls 200-yard individual medley during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Caitlyn Richmond, of Northampton, competes in the girls 200-yard medley relay during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

  • Wiktoria Kaczor, of Belchertown, competes in the girls 100-yard breaststroke during the Western Massachusetts Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday at Springfield College. GAZETTE STAFF / DAN LITTLE

For the Gazette
Published: 2/11/2017 11:35:10 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Northampton freshman Ruby Gottlieb adjusted her yellow swim cap as she took her spot on the platform in lane three before the start of the 100-yard butterfly.

In the blink of an eye she sprung from her stance and made her way through the water. As she started to separate herself from the other five swimmers, the cheers from the stands at Springfield College’s Art Linkletter Natatorium intensified as they bounced off the walls.

When she kicked off the far side of the pool it seemed as though she exploded with speed. As she approached the final stretch it was apparent who the winner would be. Gottlieb won in 58.79 seconds and helped the Blue Devils to fourth place at the Western Massachusetts championship with 213 points.

Minnechaug (308) edged Longmeadow (306) for the championship.

Gottlieb’s plan coming in was to focus on and improve on her weakness.

“I was really focusing on my kick, because I have been struggling with that a bit lately,” said Gottlieb. “It wasn’t a best time for me outside of high school swimming, but I was just trying to have the same swim that I had previously.”

With her first-place performance in the butterfly and her third-place finish in the 200-yard individual medley (2:15.15), Gottlieb qualified for the state Division 2 championships on Saturday at Boston University. Gottlieb is familiar with the facilities.

“I am really excited,” said Gottlieb. “I swam at the pool before in club so I have a good lay of the land for the site that it will be at. Since I am a freshman it is my first time competing in states so I don’t know what to expect really, but I am excited.”

Competing against upperclassmen can be a challenge for a freshman, but Gottlieb has plenty of experience against older opponents from her competitions in the club circuit.

“It is a little intimidating,” said Gottlieb. “But at the same time it isn’t, in club I swim in the 15-18 (age) category so I am used to going against people that are a little bit older than me.”

Senior Haley Synan of Belchertown had a memorable day. Synan placed second in the 500 freestyle (5:21.22), third in 200 freestyle (2:00.86). She also and played a role in Belchertown’s second-place 200 medley relay (1:56.23).

Synan was quick to gleam with happiness at the fact that her teammates did so well. Belchertown finished eighth out of 22 teams with 172 points.

“Today we had a lot of new qualifiers, a lot more than we have had in my four years here,” said Synan. “I am so excited to have a bigger team going (to the state championships). We had a lot of best times today. I am so proud of everybody. I did not have any best times, but I still had a great time because of the people I was with.”

Synan competed in back-to-back events to start the meet: the 200 medley relay and the 200 freestyle.

Participating in back-to-back events is enough to drain some swimmers, but not Synan.

“I am used to doing that in dual meets,” said Synan. “I almost always do the medley and the 200. It is such a high stress situation and there are so many people running around so it was a bit crazy, but I don’t know how much it affected me going into the 200 (freestyle). I was definitely tired, but I think it was worth it.”

Synan was excited to see the freshmen on the team qualify for states.

“I am really excited,” said Synan. “I think all the girls that qualified are going to do really well with this extra week of rest. I am hoping for some best times from everyone, and we have some first-time qualifiers as well that are freshmen and I am super excited to see them swim.”

Diving

Northampton’s Jordyn Vandergrift finished fifth (384.60), and Easthampton teammates Brielle Bergeron (340.00) and Amelia Craig (330.30) finished ninth and 10th, respectively.

Vandergrift felt she needed to work on her mechanics.

“I need to be more consistent,” she said. “But I feel my entries were really good and I have made a lot of progress with my reverses. It was not my best meet, but I definitely had a lot of fun. There were so many good dives.”


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