Calvert Hall's Francis beats traffic in and out of pool Senior star is area's best in 5 events

January 24, 1993|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Contributing Writer

Dreams may be the only thing on the minds of many high school students at 5:30 a.m., but getting to swim practice is the foremost thought of Brad Francis.

Francis, a senior standout for Calvert Hall, is at Hucht Pool by 6:30 a.m. five days a week. He drives to school from Perry Hall every day, a 15-minute ride, but "it's 10 minutes in 5:30 traffic," he said with a smile.

The defending MSA champions practice twice a day, before and after school, for a total of three hours.

"When you're in the pool three hours a day, you tend to think a lot," said Francis, a 4.0 student who is considering studying psychology in college. "You think about everything because it's practically impossible to think about swimming for that long. I actually used to think about French while I was swimming, and I did wellin French class during that time."

But judging from his times this season, Francis, a member of both the National and French honor societies, isn't conjugating verbs when he is waiting in the starting blocks before an event.

Francis has the area's fastest times in five events -- 200 individual medley (1 minute, 54.14 seconds), 50 freestyle (21.56), 100 butterfly (50.79), 100 freestyle (46.00) and the 100 backstroke (51.91).

His time in the 100 backstroke is a pool and school record, and his 200 IM finish (1:54.14) against Loyola on Jan. 13 broke a pool and school record formerly held by teammate Mark Gabriele.

Last year at the Eastern Interscholastics meet, Francis was second in his two best events, the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke.

Those finishes have drawn attention from coaches at University of Southern California, where he has been accepted, and Stanford, which notifies applicants in April.

"Before this year, I was looking into a lot of other schools," Francis said. "Over the last year I've improved a lot. The two schools that are looking at me have great coaches, and I don't think I would get lost in the shuffle at either one."

Reds Hucht, in his 33rd year as Calvert Hall coach, worked with Francis through his Knights of Columbus Orchards program before Francis came to Calvert Hall.

"He has a lot of natural ability," Hucht said. "He has a good attitude. I don't have to push him, I just have to lead him."

In a sport where many youngsters are subjected to outside pressure and burn out at an early age, Francis said one of the reasons he has been successful is because he never has really been pressured.

"I've never really had that pressure, and that's helped me," Francis said. "Obviously, my parents and my entire family have supported me, but when it comes down to it, I'm the one going to the pool three hours a day, five times a week."

To prevent burnout, Francis takes summers off from competing and hasn't gotten heavily involved in physical training outside the pool. In fact, he is looking forward to the weight training college programs integrate into their workouts.

"He's never worked on weights," Hucht said of Francis, 6 feet 1, 160 pounds. "I prefer to use our time in the water than devote it to bodybuilding. They can do that on their own time."

The next few weeks will prove challenging for Francis. Calvert Hall and Loyola will duel again, followed by the MSA championships and the Eastern Interscholastics meet at La Salle University in Philadelphia.

Looking at his future in the sport, Francis thinks a lot about college and even dreams about taking his talents beyond that.

"I'd like to go to the Olympics, but I realize that is a pretty lofty goal, and I wouldn't feel like I would have lost anything if I didn't make it," he said. "I'm more into thinking about getting into college and getting a degree."

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