Turners Falls Swimming: Thunder swept by Monson in season opener

Staff Writer
Published: 12/9/2021 7:33:18 PM

After a season in which meets were virtual and Turners Falls had just six swimmers, Thunder coach Colin Machat is pleased to have a normal season on the schedule for this winter. 

Thanks to a new co-op with Frontier, the Thunder have 18 swimmers on their roster — five boys and 13 girls — allowing them to have the bodies to compete on a meet-to-meet basis. 

Turners kicked off its season on Thursday with an in-person meet at Monson, where the host Mustangs earned a sweep (girls 89-61, boys 57-20) at Elizabeth Manley Pool at Quarry Hill Community School.

“It’s much better than the virtual meets,” Machat said. “The virtual meets had their pros but there was way more cons associated with them.” 

Winners on the girls side included Leah Gump (100-meter butterfly, 1:21.38) as well as the 200-meter freestyle relay team (3:12.33). Ella Guidaboni (50 freestyle), Sophia McComb (100 breaststroke) and Lillian Poirier (100 backstroke) all added second-place showings.

Desmond Wallace took wins in the 100 freestyle (1:09.20) and 100 backstroke (1:26.01) for Turners, while teammate Matthew Sibley was second in both the 50 free (35.82) and 100 breaststroke (1:44.99).

With a new team, the Thunder are looking to gain experience throughout the season and build the program for years to come. 

“We want to compete,” Machat said. “We have a lot of kids who are new to swimming. They don’t have a lot of experience; only about six of our 18 kids really know swimming as a sport. We’ll get them used to it and hopefully they like it and we can have some high retention numbers.” 

There are experienced swimmers who could compete for postseason spots. Machat has high hopes for Nik Martin on the boys side while Gump, McComb and Poirier have stood out on the girls side early.

“Those who know swimming, we’re hoping we can make some Western Mass. cut times,” Machat said. “Possibly we could have some people going for Western Mass. titles and try to qualify for states.” 

With the league alignments shifting every five years, the Thunder find themselves in the Constitution League this go-around with Chicopee, Monson, Renaissance, Holyoke, Sci-Tech and South Hadley.

The league will provide a new challenge for Turners. 

“I like having this change so we can swim new people,” Machat said. “At the same time the kids got used to those pool and now we’ll be swimming in new places. They’ll be thrown for a loop but we’ll learn and adjust.” 

Turners is back in the pool Tuesday with an away meet at Chicopee.


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