Maxim Kleyer was not always a swimmer. As a kid he dabbled in soccer and even baseball. It wasn’t until seventh grade that he found a sport he truly loved.

“I joined the team and I think that’s what hit me most. They were so supportive and welcoming me, I was really a part of the team from the beginning,” Kleyer recalled.

What You Need To Know

  • For the last 5 years, Kleyer served as captain of the Freedom Aquatics Team in Staten Island

  • On this club swimming team, he worked to make sure others feel just as welcome as he once did

  • After four years of swimming, Kleyer still holds the record for the 100-yard backstroke

  • Kleyer is a top student with a near-perfect grade point average

For the last five years, Kleyer has served as captain of the Freedom Aquatics Team in Staten Island. On this club swimming team he worked to make sure others felt just as welcome as he once did. When he joined the Susan Wagner high school team his freshman year, Kleyer was instantly recognized as that year’s most valuable player.

“My freshman year, me and three seniors were put on a relay together. We swam hard and ended up getting first in the city. It made me excited for the future because that was my first place, and I had just joined as a freshman, and we set a school record and then went onto state. It really set my attitude for the following seasons,” Kleyer said.

That was also the first of many records this Susan Wagner graduate would hold. After four years of swimming, Kleyer still holds the record for the 100-yard backstroke and is part of the record-holding team in the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, and the 400 freestyle relay.

“I have bragging rights but I don’t like to brag,” Kleyer shrugged. “I’m just doing what I enjoy and I hope I’m helping others do the same.”

As the recipient of the M.V.P. award during his high school tenure, the leader of his team’s four consecutive State Island Championships, a four-time qualifier for the N.Y.S. Public High School Athletic Association State Swim meet, and winner of the Kevin Kwan Memorial Award for being the PSAL’s Most Outstanding Sophomore Swimmer, Kleyer’s bragging rights are undeniable.

“For me it’s all about the team. I want my teammates to do well, not just me. I think people forget that swimming is a team sport, especially in high school, and the more swimmers that do well the more points you get. When I get [the M.V.P. award] I always accept it, but I also want someone else to come and take it from me because I don’t want to be carrying this team. I want everyone else to put in all their effort and be recognized,” Kleyer said.

This star swimmer was always there to lend a helping hand and to encourage others. As captain, one of his duties was to set up meet lineups and develop practice workouts. He also served as a volunteer swim coach, teaching children the sport. He said he loved most working with others, and helping them develop a positive mindset during tough times.

“I always try to help out in whatever way possible when I see someone else struggling. I help them work on their technique through demonstrating the stroke, but I also try to help them get out of their head because a lot of swimming is mental,” Kleyer said.

Outside of swimming, Kleyer is a top student with a near-perfect grade point average. He enhanced his course load by enrolling in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy during high school. In this program, he became the Chief Financial Officer of a catering company, specializing in meals for individuals with dietary restrictions. In this role, he was responsible for handling payroll and balancing budgets. Kleyer said this role furthered his leadership skills and believes it will prepare him for life after college.

Next year, Kleyer will be attending the Macaulay Honors School at the College of Staten Island, and will continue to spend time in the pool as a member of their swim team. He hopes to become a skilled coder and would like to develop video games in the future. No matter what the future holds, he said he will put his best efforts forward, in and out of the pool.

“If you want to get better at something, you have to practice. That’s what I’ve always been told and that’s what I’ve always lived by. Practice makes perfect and I strongly believe in that,” Kleyer said.