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Liverpool swim teams earn Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame honor

Warriors won 113 straight meets, 15 straight sectional titles

— Jim Funicello was already a member of the Greater Syracuse Sports Hall of Fame. Now, the Liverpool boys swim team he coached to unprecedented heights in parts of three decades gets to join him in that pantheon.

The Warriors' teams from 1966 to 1983 were named as the Team of Honor for the 2014 class and will be feted on Oct. 20 as part of the 28th annual Hall of Fame dinner at Drumlins Country Club.

Both Funicello and several of his swimmers on those teams were on hand Tuesday at Tully's in North Syracuse for the announcement. Funicello said that the reason his teams did so well was that he emphasized a close atmosphere within the program, with several different sets of siblings finding success.

"Liverpool had a wonderful group of families," said Funicello.

And what they produced in those 17 years was extraordinary. Liverpool competed in 220 meets and won 215 of them, tasting defeat just five times and, at one point, winning 113 consecutive meets and 15 straight Section III championships.

Not once in Funicello's long tenure did Liverpool lose a meet at home. What's more, a remarkable 21 of his swimmers would earn All-American honors by the time they graduated.

Going beyond the local level, Liverpool also won the 1979 Eastern Interscholastic Swimmming Championships in Lawrenceville, N.J., beating more than 100 teams from across the entire eastern United States.

Paul Edwards, who graduated in 1976 and went to St. Lawrence University, said that Funicello was an innovative coach, bringing in aspects like weight training that weren't common in swimming programs at the time he competed.

"Our success was a byproduct of the preparation we put in," said Edwards. "Winning just seemed to happen."

Mark Edwards, Paul's younger brother (he graduated from LHS in 1981), said that work started in the program at a young age, with kids working alongside the older swimmers and picking up all of their good habits that carried over into later years.

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