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Originally published February 17, 2014 at 3:17 PM | Page modified February 17, 2014 at 9:00 PM

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Lindbergh swimmer Andrew Franco-Munoz making most of second chance

Andrew Franco-Munoz, a star swimmer at Lindbergh High School, fell behind in school last year and falsified grades to try to stay eligible. He was suspended but he appealed to the WIAA and is back in the pool.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Boys swimming and diving championships

Where: King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way.

Friday: 4A swim and dive prelims at 9:45 a.m., 2A prelims at 2:30 p.m., 3A prelims at 6:15 p.m.

Saturday: 4A finals at 10 a.m., 2A finals at 2:30 p.m., 3A finals at 6:30 p.m.

Four to watch:

Edward Kim, Eastlake – Goes for individual wins Nos. 7 and 8, and has overall state records in 200 and 100 freestyles in sight.

Chase Bublitz, Kentridge – Senior goes for wins five and six overall, swimming 50 free and 100 butterfly.

Tommy Thach, Kennedy – Junior is two-time defending champ in 200 IM, and brings All-America consideration time into 100 butterfly.

Andrew Franco-Munoz, Lindbergh – Has top 2A qualifying times in the 50 and 100 frees.

Story lines

• Mercer Island looks to capitalize on a big qualifying lead in the 3A competition.

• Which of the seven 2A teams within 57 points of each other comes out on top?

• Will Newport add its first boys title to its two-time girls swim championships?

Doug Drowley

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RENTON – Andrew Franco-Munoz lost focus.

Cutting class didn’t matter, as long as he kept cutting his swim times.

Once a straight-A student at Lindbergh High School, he took on a daunting course schedule to start his junior year — two advance-placement classes (AP U.S. History and AP Language Arts), pre-calculus, physics and chemistry.

And he began falling behind and abandoning assignments.

Too proud and embarrassed to ask for help, Franco-Munoz decided he didn’t care — until he realized it might cost him the one thing he cared about most: swimming.

As the postseason neared, he faced the statewide grade-check mandated for athletes by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.

Franco-Munoz saw only one way out. And much to the surprise of those closest to him, including his parents and coach, he took it.

In January 2013, Franco-Munoz falsified grades in the two AP classes and forged teachers’ signatures.

He was quickly caught and chastised, earning a yearlong suspension from the sport he loves.

And in the end, it was what Franco-Munoz needed. He made amends, not excuses, and successfully appealed the extent of his punishment. Today, Franco-Munoz is back in good standing in the classroom and making waves in the swimming pool as a contender for two championships in this week’s Class 2A state meet.

“He made a big mistake, and he owned up to everything,” Lindbergh coach Roger Miron said. “He’s gotten a second chance and he’s making the most out of it. He’s swimming hungry.”

Franco-Munoz quickly appealed the length of the suspension and received a hearing by Mike Colbrese, WIAA executive director, which he attended with his mother and coach.

Colbrese was impressed.

“He came in very humble and very conciliatory and just said, ‘I messed up,’ ” Colbrese said. “He took full responsibility. ... This is one of the good stories.”

Franco-Munoz sat out the remainder of the 2012-13 season, but was in the stands to cheer on his teammates — ones he apologized to face to face.

“They were shocked at the situation,” Miron said.

Most days, Franco-Munoz came straight home from school and studied, as mandated by his parents, who were intent on getting him back on track.

“Last year was the exception, not the rule for him,” said his father, Mario Franco. “He’s a very good boy.”

He had always been a very good student and wanted to challenge himself his junior year, preparing for college. He quickly became overwhelmed.

“About the third week of school, I just decided to give up with all the workload,” Franco-Munoz said. “I couldn’t manage it, or I chose to take the lazy path. My grades were going downhill and I didn’t really care about it.”

That changed when the consequences came. To regain eligibility with the swim team as a senior, Franco-Munoz had to make up his missing classwork and meet the Renton School District grade requirement of a 2.0, which he has surpassed. He was cleared before the season started.

“I was extremely thankful and I wanted to prove myself that I could do it,” Franco-Munoz said, “and so far I have.”

His performances in the pool have been impressive. He clocked state-qualifying times in each individual event to earn what is considered “ironman” status, recording a series of personal bests.

During the season, he remembered Colbrese telling him at the hearing that he’d come watch him swim if he followed through on his eligibility requirements. An invitation was extended and Colbrese was on hand to watch Franco-Munoz be part of a record-setting relay.

“That was pretty special,” Colbrese said.

Franco-Munoz broke two individual school records last weekend as Lindbergh won the Seamount League Championship meet for the first time in school history — something last year’s team might have been able to do if he had been eligible.

His winning times in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle were both district records and he is aiming for dual titles at this weekend’s state meet at the King County Aquatic Center, coming in with the top times in both events.

Franco-Munoz clearly is making the most of his second chance, making a big splash in class and in the pool.

Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or sringer@seattletimes.com



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