2022-23 Gazette Swimmer of the Year: Lucy Smith, Amherst

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-05-2023 7:59 PM

A special waiver allowed Lucy Smith to join the Amherst Regional high school swim team as a seventh grader.

The Hurricanes couldn’t have fielded the squad without adding middle schoolers for the 2017-18 season.

“It was definitely a little intimidating. It was really fun, though, because I knew a lot of the older people,” said Smith, now a senior. “For me, there wasn’t a lot of pressure.”

Smith has been one of the constants on the program that has risen from life support to dominance. As coaches and teammates changed around her, she became one of the state’s best sprinters and watched the Hurricanes become a force at big meets. The 2023 Daily Hampshire Gazette Girls Swimmer of the Year led Amherst to a second consecutive sectional championship, and the Hurricanes placed second at the Division 2 state meet. Smith also defended her state title in the 50-yard freestyle and helped Amherst extend its dominance in the 200 medley relay. The Hurricanes haven’t lost the race in over two years. She embraced newcomers to the foursome the same way upperclassmen welcomed her as a middle schooler.

“It’s really fun for me because I’ve seen that relay grow since I was in seventh grade. To be able to go through it with so many different people has been really fun for me,” Smith said. “To leave that legacy has been really fun. It’s been fun to do it with so many different people. We’ve had to try things differently over the years.”

She also added silver medals at the state level in the 100 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay, and captured three West/Central sectional event championships. Smith stands much shorter than typical elite sprinters at 5-foot-4½ but still beat them all to the wall this season.

“She generates so much power in the water, it’s really incredible,” Amherst coach Denise Leckenby said. “She’s a unique type of swimmer in that it’s not just her physical abilities as an athlete but also her mental tenacity and focus, her drive. She’s a sheer competitor in a really admirable way in that when she’s racing, she’s 100 percent wanting to win. And yet when she’s out of the pool and being teammate, she’s a lovely human being.”

Smith regularly coordinated the playlist for Amherst’s practices. She spent the scant time in between practice sets encouraging her teammates or making them laugh.

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Smith could hardly believe her name graced the posters after seeing so many of the same ceremonies honor others.

“It hasn’t set in because I haven’t graduated yet. Part of me expects to just go back next year,” she said. “It’s been going on so long that I’m so used to it. I don’t think I’ll know what to do.”

Turns out she’ll still swim for Amherst – just Amherst College, not Amherst Regional. Smith leaves an unmatched legacy with the Hurricanes between last year’s state championship, the two sectional trophies and the litany of individual titles and school records.

She hopes her career stands out less as the program continues. Smith wants her records broken and even more trophies in the case when she returns to visit.

“I think they will. They’re all so fast already,” she said. “It was so exciting to see the younger kids and being able to cheer them on was so exciting. I hope that they all would look up to me. I hope that I was a good example for them.”

FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS

Sydney Abild, senior, Northampton

Rowan Albertson, freshman, Amherst

Finnley Chambers, freshman, Amherst

Aubrey Harrington, sophomore, Belchertown

Natalia Robak, senior, Easthampton

Lucy Smith, senior, Amherst

Ursula Von Goeler, junior, Northampton

Deborah Wells, senior, Amherst

SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS

Laura Brown, sophomore, Holyoke

Caprial DiBartolomeo, freshman, Amherst

Aurora Donta-Venman, junior, Amherst

Asha Kulp, senior, Northampton

Bethany Lavoie, junior, Belchertown

Cheri Willems, junior, Belchertown

Vallerie Williams, sophomore, Belchertown

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