The Bayside High School boys’ swim team, just two weeks removed from its 25th consecutive league victory, added another page to its considerable reputation on January 8, beating Queens rival Francis Lewis in the Commodores’ final league meet of the year.
Not only has Bayside closed the book on its third consecutive undefeated season - and its 27th league win in a row - but it did so in style. Francis Lewis was expected to be the Commodores’ biggest threat all year, prompting a packed poolside at Bayside High School. Yet the Commodores’ 65-29 win marked their greatest margin of victory over the course of the entire PSAL season.
It was an anticlimactic triumph that sparked wonder in a few Baysiders.
“I always predict [each score], and I had us winning by 12 points,” said Steven Warman, the head coach. “I didn’t think it would be anything like this.”
“Not by this much. I was expecting 10 or 15 points, but not this much,” said Yohancey Kingston, a senior.
“It’s so awesome,” said Denis Reshetnev, a senior. “I had butterflies in my stomach [before the meet]. I wanted to throw up. Now I just want to throw my coach into the pool.”
Reshetnev and his teammates did so a few minutes after the close of last Thursday’s meet, with Warman happy to oblige. Not long before, they had gathered for a congratulatory huddle on the near corner of the bleacher section, their Sharpie-covered backs exposing some pre-meet words of encouragement. Now, they were all in the pool one more time, index fingers pointing skyward.
“We’re a family, no matter what,” said Reshetnev, admitting some sentiment as his senior year neared its close. “This was our last meet together, the last time we’re at home.”
“They kicked our ass,” said Jeffrey Scherr, head coach of Francis Lewis. “They’re a good team, they’re the class of Queens, and we knew it. … I knew on paper that we were gonna have a really difficult time.”
Only in two events did a Francis Lewis swimmer come out on top. The winners of the 200-yard medley relay were the team of senior Bryan Hart, senior Norman Chan, sophomore Chudchane Sangtippawan, and junior Andres Romero, with Chan’s 24.04 time standing as the fastest split in the whole race. Sangtippawan added a victory in the 100-yard breaststroke, with a time of 1:02.96 that was seven seconds faster than Bayside’s Allen Chu.
Relays count for the most points in PSAL swimming and typically decide most contests, so it was in the remaining two relays that Bayside fully upended the Patriots and solidified its victory. In the 200-yard freestyle, Reshetnev, Kingston, sophomore Jay Park, and Chu took an easy first place, posting times of 1:35.64 overall and 22.68 for Kingston’s team-leading second leg. Again, Lewis’ Sangtippawan proved his mettle, scoring a time of 22.52 one lane over.
In the 400-yard freestyle, Bayside finished 1-2, with the ‘A’ squad of junior James Chang, Park, Kingston, and junior William Hendershot taking top billing at 3:43.30. Park was the star in the second leg, paddling the length of the small pool four times before finishing with a personal mark of 52.43.
Hendershot impressed once more in the 500-yard freestyle, coming in at 5:04.43. Francis Lewis’ Romero, the second-place finisher, stopped swimming fully one minute and 21 seconds later.
And Kingston continued his blistering pace in the 50-yard freestyle, totaling 22.36 for his best 50-yard mark in a season where he has been used in nine different events.
“I’m confident enough to put anybody in any event,” Warman said.
If the competition in Queens is not enough for Bayside to break a sweat, the Brooklynites awaiting the city championship in February probably will be. Brooklyn Technical and Fort Hamilton, respectively the champion and runner-up of last year’s swimming and diving title rounds, are undefeated and await a pair of mutual matchups on January 14 and January 21 to identify the class of the borough.
Bayside, which envisions itself as a top-four team despite lacking a diving squad and the points to go with it, will likely have to conquer at least one of these two teams if it expects to surprise the city on February 9. Fort Hamilton, which fields a diving team, has earned a place in history as the thorn in the Commodores’ side, besting Bayside 55-44 in the first round in 2006, and repeating the feat by a too-close-for-comfort score of 54-48 in the 2008 semifinals.
“I don’t know if we’re gonna beat Fort Hamilton or Brooklyn Tech, but we’re right up there,” Warman said. “We can go up there and win the city. That’s our goal.”
Francis Lewis, meanwhile, is projected as a top-eight team this February, with Brooklyn Tech, Fort Hamilton, Bronx Science, Curtis (Staten Island), Hunter, Stuyvesant (Manhattan), and Tottenville (Staten Island) serving as potential foils.
“We don’t match up well with the second-round teams,” Scherr said. But he’s telling his squad to “keep your head up, [because] we’re not dead yet. I have a feeling we’re gonna be on the top.”