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Despite too-short season, Bayside swimmer stands out

The Bayside boys’ swim team hasn’t lost a league meet since 2006, and Yohancey Kingston, in his final year at the school whose chlorine scent could reach Astoria, is arguably the biggest reason why. Head coach Steven Warman, calling himself “confident enough to put anybody in any event,” used him in 10 different events this season, ranging from to the 400-yard freestyle relay (five times this season) to the 100-yard butterfly (just once, in the city semifinals).

But it is the 50-yard freestyle where Kingston is most famously fleet. His fastest time of the regular season was 22.19 seconds, although his slowest time this year — 22.83 — was still strong enough to finish in first place. At the New York State Public High School Championships on March 6 and 7, benefiting from the new laser swim suit technology that debuted at last year’s Beijing Olympics, he clocked in at 21.72 in the finals, good enough for 14th in the state and first in New York City.

He also reached a personal best time of 47.87 in the 100-yard freestyle, where he finished 17th.

Statewide accolades aside, however, it is with some bitterness that Bayside swimming closes out its 2009 season. The undefeated but entirely un-intimidating Commodores had emerged confidently from their season-ending thrashing of rival Francis Lewis, ready to take the PSAL playoffs by storm even while lacking the resources to field a diving team, which counts for enough points to affect the outcome of postseason meets.

“I don’t know if we’re gonna beat Fort Hamilton or Brooklyn Tech, but we’re right up there,” Warman said at the time. “We can go up there and win the city. That’s our goal.”

He did not think Stuyvesant would prove to be his team’s undoing, but one 52-50 nail-biter later, Bayside found itself bounced from contention in the city semifinals. In case you were wondering, Stuyvesant secured two more diving points than Bayside.

Like the classical hero, then, Bayside swimming succumbed to its fatal flaw in yet another edition of a heartbreaking annual ritual. Kingston, for the record, was in fine form that day, clocking in at 22.51 and finishing a full second and a half ahead of Stuyvesant’s Christophe Kwok and Konrad Wojnar. He also took first place in the 100-yard butterfly, 200-yard freestyle relay (with Adam Parys, Jay Park, and Ricky Huynh), and the 400-yard freestyle relay (with Park, William Hendershot, and Allen Chu).

It was not enough for Bayside, which lost in the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard backstroke, and 100-yard breaststroke.

For more satisfying memories, Kingston need only rewind to the Commodores’ 65-29 defeat of Francis Lewis on January 8. The Courier was there for what amounted to Senior Day at the Bayside High School pool, with players huddling together for motivational speeches by co-captains Kingston and Denis Reshetnev, seniors sentimentalizing about their last home meet, and everyone ultimately celebrating by pushing Warman into the pool and joining him there.

How could you ever forget a 36-point clobbering of your rival?

“Not by this much,” Kingston said at the time, shaking his head. “I was expecting 10 or 15 points, but not this much.”

Nor will Kingston forget one other detail: Bayside still has a 27-meet undefeated streak to continue next year. The team’s alums have not been shy about coming back to cheer on their team.

“It makes me feel good to know that I contributed, that me and these guys can take it this far,” he said.

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