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Francis Lewis swimmers finishes season perfect

The Francis Lewis High School boys’ swimming team finished the regular season undefeated on the way to the Patriots’ third Queens title in the last five seasons. The team’s recent accomplishments are impressive, especially considering the school has no swimming pool included in its athletic facilities.

Francis Lewis beat out Long Island City (9-1) and Bayside (8-2) for the Queens division crown. It is one of four teams in New York City to finish the season unbeaten. Stuyvesant and James Madison, both from Brooklyn, and Staten Island’s Tottenville also ran the regular-season table.

Although the level of competition in Queens may not be on the same level as in Brooklyn, the Patriots’ 10-0 record still speaks for itself. It’s just that not too many people have been listening.

“The school without a pool continues to fool the competition,” Francis Lewis swimming coach Jeffrey Scherr boasts.

Lack of funding leaves the Patriots without their own pool, but not without a will to win. The team must pay fees to practice at league rival Bayside High School and Queensborough Community College. The close-knit team raises money during the season with events such as bake sales to pay for use of foreign facilities.

Unlike other teams in the city, none of the Francis Lewis boys belong to off-season amateur clubs. They do show up to practice, wherever and whenever it is. The dedication of the swimmers has been matched by the support of parents and the school’s administration, all key factors in the team’s success.

Some families have contributed in the biggest way possible. They have produced more than one swimmer for the Francis Lewis program. Sergey Kuznetsov, Mohammad Jamal, Daniel Armstrong, members of the 400-yard relay team, all have seen their brothers swim for Francis Lewis. Gleb Kuznetsov and Rizwan Jamal are on the team this season; James Armstrong recently graduated.

“I never turn kids away,” Scherr said. “If they are willing to make the commitment, we want them on the team.”

Team strengths include captain Brian Leight, who swims the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke exceptionally well. Junior Jon Bloom is a top performer in the 200 and 100 freestyles. The 400-yard relay team finished the season unbeaten.

“All of our accomplishments have been very satisfying,” Scherr said. “Success breeds success.”

Success even has spread to the girls’ side of the pool. Scherr’s other squad is poised to break into the upper echelon of the Queens division. Like the boys, they have consistently made the playoffs the last few seasons. They lost to Bronx Science in the playoffs this season, but next season has all of an improved team.

“I can see them moving into the top two teams in Queens shortly,” Scherr said. “Next year could be a breakthrough year.”

Next up for the boys, the Open Swimming trials on Feb. 2 and 3 at Lehman College. Two days later, the playoffs begin. The first round and semifinals will take place at Lehman, as well as the team championship finals on Feb. 14, if they make it that far.

Reach contributing writer Adam Martini by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

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