A 400-meter swim can be grueling on its own, but for Smithtown’s James Martusciello, it’s a reprieve from the 5 a.m. practices that dominate his winters.

The senior won the 400-meter freestyle with a time of 4:39.45 to help Smithtown top North Babylon, 88-63, in a non-league boys swim meet at Deer Park on Wednesday. The triumph came on a rare day without morning practice.

“The hardest part is waking up,” Martusciello said of his schedule. “But once you wake up and get there you’re good for the rest of the day.”

The Bulls (2-0) don’t have their own pool, so they take what they can get at Hauppauge. Martusciello took advantage of the extra rest that came with having an afternoon meet and got out quickly in his race. Waking up long before sunrise takes similar skills to beating the field in a lengthy contest.

“Being that everyone’s like ‘oh that’s a killer event,’ you have to have the mindset that you can do it, Martusciello said. “In the beginning, you can’t go slow you have to go your hardest and not save anything.”

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Freshman Chester Pergan won the 200-meter freestyle in 2:11.41 and the 100 backstroke in 1:06.81. He’s in his second season with the team, and is inching his way toward a possible state qualification down the line.

Overall, coach Ray Willie said he’s hoping to get more than half of his 20 swimmers to qualify for the county meet. It starts with morning practices and gets closer to reality with performances like Wednesday’s. It helps to have a hardy group.

“I have to say the kids who are here, they love it,” Willie said.