Westford Academy swimmer Brian Poon holds four school records and is part of three school-record relay teams.SUN/JULIA MALAKIESun staff photos can be
Westford Academy swimmer Brian Poon holds four school records and is part of three school-record relay teams. SUN/JULIA MALAKIE

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LOWELL -- Take this fish out of water and he's lost.

"I'm not very coordinated," said Brian Poon, Westford Academy's swimming standout. "Doing anything athletic on dry land usually doesn't go well for me. I roll my ankles all the time when I run, it's really sad.

"I don't know how I do so well in the pool. I guess I just have a natural inclination to be in the water. I move pretty fast in the pool."

You can say that again. The 5-11, 170-pound junior is the master of different strokes and he has the records to prove it.

Poon has posted the best individual times in the history of the Grey Ghosts' boys program in the 100 backstroke (52.07), 100 breaststroke (58.44), 100 butterfly (51.73), 200 I.M. (1:53.51), along with swimming a leg on Westford's record-setting 200 medley (1:39.83), 200 freestyle (1:28.58) and 400 freestyle (3:16.11) relay teams.

His lane in the pool is Poon's isolation chamber, the area from which he adds to his ever-evolving swimming resume in big, bold strokes. Poon swam on the Grey Ghost varsity his freshman and junior seasons (Poon only competed for his club team, Phoenix Swimming of Haverhill, during the winter of his sophomore year), and has never lost a dual meet race during his high school career.

"He's one of the better swimmers I've coached here," said Westford boys head coach Harriet Kinnett. "He's very talented. He's top-notch.


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He came in as a freshman and made an impact. We can swim him in any event. He has (postseason) qualifying times in everything but diving.

"His best events distance-wise probably are the 400 I.M. and the 200 breaststroke and those events you don't even swim in high school meets. So he has all these records and they aren't even in his best events."

Poon first started making waves in the pool when he was in pre-school. He has continued his winning ways in high school, reaching the point where many races Poon is basically racing against the clock in hopes of posting a personal best time.

With Poon leading the way, the Grey Ghost boys finished the dual meet season with a 10-0 record and won the Dual County League Championship Meet for the first-time.

At the DCL Meet, Poon posted first place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. Poon also swam legs on the Grey Ghosts winning 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays.

"I don't take it for granted that I'm undefeated," said Poon. "I work hard and it's an honor for me to swim on this team. High school meets are great ways for me to check in and see where I am time wise. A ton of this sport is mental. My club coach always tells me your body is ready to do everything you think you can do.

"Once you push past that mental block that sometimes holds you back, you can do anything you want. There are times when I've been stuck around a certain time in an event and I keep trying to break it. I'll try a bunch of different things and nothing works and then all of a sudden I snap out and get it. It's because I overcame my mental block. I can't tell you how fulfilling it is when you break past that mental barrier."

Westford will be competing at the North Sectional Meet Sunday at WPI. The Division 1 State Meet is set for Sunday, Feb. 16 at MIT. And Poon is hoping to make a big splash at these two key year-end meets.

Poon, an honors student with a 3.7 grade-point-average, is looking forward to swimming at the Division 1 collegiate level with an eye on earning a berth in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

"He's a talented swimmer and an extremely bright student," said Kinnett. "He's the whole package as a student-athlete. He's going to get a full scholarship somewhere and be a very good college swimmer. And there's no doubt in my mind he'll make the Olympic Trials."

Poon is also focused on trying to help lift Westford to the top of the team standings at the sectional and state tournaments.

"It would be great if I could swim well and help Westford take down some of the top teams and capture the team title," said Poon. "People say swimming is not really a team sport, but I enjoy helping this team win. Cheering each other on really helps us perform better during a meet. I have great teammates and great coaches. It's been a fun season."

Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter and Tout @cwfrongi