2024 Gazette Boys Swimmer of the Year: Luke Giguere, Belchertown

Belchertown’s Luke Giguere competes against Northampton in the 100-yard backstroke earlier this season at the Chestnut Hill Community School pool in Belchertown.

Belchertown’s Luke Giguere competes against Northampton in the 100-yard backstroke earlier this season at the Chestnut Hill Community School pool in Belchertown. STAFF FILE PHOTO/DAN LITTLE

By GARRETT COTE

Staff Writer

Published: 05-01-2024 4:43 PM

BELCHERTOWN — He didn’t think it would ever happen outside of a regular season dual meet, but Luke Giguere had just done something swimmers only dream of.

The Belchertown senior put forth a heroic 46.62-second anchor leg in the 400-yard freestyle relay at the 2024 Central/West Championships back in February to come from behind and help the Orioles earn first place in the event – catapulting them to a first-place team finish overall.

It was Giguere’s fourth event win of the day – a mark that never even entered his radar.

“I never thought that I would be able to have a four first-place day outside of a dual meet,” Giguere said. “There would always be those really good teams like Longmeadow, Minnechaug or Westfield that would have a relay team beat us. Having a full-rounded team helped the relays. I give credit to my teammates for me having the success I did on that day.”

His come-from-behind win was one of the many standout performances in the pool throughout his senior year. Giguere was selected as the 2023-24 Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Swimmer of the Year – his second straight capturing of the award.

“It’s really nice being able to have other people see all the work that I’ve put into this sport,” Giguere said. “With swimming not being very popular, just having some recognition for it is really nice. I’ve put a lot of time into this sport and it’s nice to see it pay off.”

Giguere earned Central/West championships in both the 100 backstroke (52.72) and 200 individual medley (1:57.56), and helped the Belchertown 200 medley relay team to a title with a time of 1:39.29.

That set him up to throw on his cape and fly to a fourth crown in the 400 freestyle, the very last event of the meet.

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“That was really great,” Giguere said. “I’ve never had the opportunity at a high-level meet to make a comeback to fully win the event. When I saw I was a second or two behind, I had no other thought in my mind that I was gonna catch up to him. I wasn’t gonna take anything else as a final result.”

With COVID-19 preventing dual meets from happening during Giguere’s freshman year, he really only completed three full seasons of swimming. He won his lone state championship as a sophomore, and from there claimed a plethora of sectional titles across a handful of events.

During this season’s state meet, Giguere grabbed second in the 100 backstroke (52.78), third in the 100 freestyle (47.49), and helped the Orioles’ two relay teams to third (200 medley) and fourth (400 freestyle) place finishes, respectively.

“I think my high school career went pretty well,” Giguere said. “I won two events at Western Mass. as a sophomore, and won my only state title that year. Then I carried that over into junior year and again into senior year. I had success through all three years. Our relays and teams got better each year as well.”

Even with all of the individual accomplishments Giguere has claimed during his three full seasons in the pool, he still points to the team Central/West championship as the highlight of his career.

Seeing his teammates and best friends shine on the big stage, getting to take to the podium with them as well as the trophy and first-place medals while sharing huge smiles – that was the perfect way to go out as a senior.

“We had a pretty strong team my sophomore year, but then this year we had a deep team and a lot of kids really stepped up,” Giguere said. “We had a well-rounded team and everyone was doing good throughout the season, and it showed at Western Mass. when we performed really well and came out on top.”

Next year, Giguere will be enlisting in the United States Coast Guard. And although he’s not going to be competing in meets anymore, the lessons Giguere has learned from swimming will certainly stick with him moving forward.

“It’s been a big part of my life for the past six or seven years,” Giguere said. “Having to let go of it is like a love-hate kind of thing. I’ve had times where I was down and hated swimming, and I’ve had times where I really enjoyed it. Getting to the end, seeing both sides of it, it’s bittersweet.”