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River Sharks Make BGCL History at Sectionals

February 01, 2019

Elvin R., the 15-year-old captain of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence (BGCL) River Sharks swim team, says he trained "with a fire in my body" all season for another chance at capturing the New England Boys & Girls Clubs Sectional Championships.

Last year, the team was announced as Northeast New England Area Program Council (NENEAPC) Division 2 champs - only to then be demoted to runner-up status after a scoring error revealed the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club as the true winner.

Despite having only 31 members, far fewer swimmers than others in the eight-team division, the River Sharks rose to the top of this year's Sectionals for the first time in BGCL history. In addition to racing to first place in the boys 9-10, 13-14 and 15-18 age groups, the River Sharks earned the coveted Team Spirit Award at the event held at the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester from January 26-27.

Elvin, who began swim lessons at BGCL after nearly drowning the day before his 8th birthday, recalls that the River Sharks had only 10 swimmers when he joined six years ago. Now a sophomore who also swims for Central Catholic High School, he kept his BGCL teammates positive despite being down by 206 points on the final day of competition. In the end, the River Sharks outswam second place Charlestown by 48 points.

"I just kept saying, ‘Work your hardest. Don't care who's next to you. Just focus on yourself and the people cheering for you,'" said Elvin, who swam in the final event, a razor-slim BGCL victory in the boys 15-18 200-meter freestyle relay.

"Once I knew we won, I started bawling my eyes out because all our hard work had paid off," he added. "We couldn't have done it without sticking together and supporting each other. We're a family, no matter what."

"It has been such an amazing year," said BGCL Aquatics Director Scott Lucid. "Our kids were determined and believed in themselves, and their parents supported them all season. It was great to be part of."

Did You Know?

Members of the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence attend professional sports games throughout the year thanks to the generosity of individuals and corporations in the community.