Stephen Gray and Ryan Lee
Courtesy of: Natasha Mascarenhas

By Swimming World Intern Natasha Mascarenhas

PISCATAWAY, New Jersey, January 12. DURING swim meets, it is a common sight to see swimmers cramming homework in between races. It's usually as they get older that they have to truly learn how to multitask and figure out if they can handle swimming, schoolwork and everything life tosses their way. For Westchester Aquatic Club's Steven Gray and Ryan Lee, juggling multiple responsibilities comes with ease.

"Our team really focuses on education, so if I need to stay after school for extra help or a test, my coach doesn't mind," said Ryan. "It helps me become a good student because I have time to do my homework without getting too stressed over it."

This in mind, Lee said he hopes to excel in school and get into a good college for swimming. He owes it all to Coach Carly Fierro, who he said allows him to do his best in all aspects of his life.

The boys, both 13, have known each other since second grade, and despite living in separate towns, they see each other daily for swim practice and meets. On the second day of the CeraVe Invitational, both boys swam the 100 free, 200 fly and 400 IM. Gray and Lee give their all in this sport, and manage to have time for things outside the pool as well. Gray, for example, plays basketball, lacrosse and tennis, in addition to a little snowboarding.

"I enjoy playing other sports whenever I have free time," said Gray. "I'm a competitive kid, and I try to challenge myself when I have the chance."

An interesting fact about Gray is that although he is small for his age group, he doesn't let his size define him. He tries his best regardless, and takes the challenge in his stride.

"I always tell him to compare himself to himself, not himself to other swimmers," said his mother, Donna. "If it's a personal best, he should be proud."