A leader in the pool for the Papermakers, Mark Kim hopes to become a cornerstone for the U.S. Military Academy’s men’s swimming team.
“It’s a really big honor and privilege for West Point to let me onto their swim team,” Kim said. “I just want to make the most of this senior year because high school has given me a lot. It’s not something that can easily be thrown away or forgotten.”
The captain of the defending state champion Camas boys swimming team, and two-time individual state champion, needed more than a few sentences to describe all that high school swimming has given him.
“It’s a really big part of your life. Maybe not as big as college or whatever your future may be, but it’s definitely a cornerstone,” Kim said. “I just want to give everything I can, swimming-wise and academic-wise. Leave the best legacy I can for these guys to follow.”
Blessed with natural ability in the water and a willingness to work hard, Kim puts his team above individual accomplishments.
Sophomore year culminated with his first state titles in the 200- and 500-meter freestyle events, but all Kim talked about is what the team needed to do to place higher than fourth at state the next time.
“All anybody would talk about was me getting first place. I wanted that feeling to be shared by these guys,” Kim said. “It’s not like I put in more work than the rest of these guys. We all put in a ton of work. Everybody deserves to have that feeling of being on top.”
He defended his state titles, junior year, but Camas was going for something bigger. After swimming 10 laps on his own to win the 500 free, Kim jumped right back in the pool and helped his teammates capture the 200 free relay state championship.
“That was amazing,” Kim said. “It was the first relay title that we’ve ever gotten. That was like the pinnacle. All our hard work had paid off. It was phenomenal.”
The mood got even better for Kim and the Papermakers when they became the best team at the 4A state meet by a 96-point tidal wave.
“All the hard work we did over the last three years finally led up to us bringing that trophy home,” he said. “Being the defending state champions this year feels really good. It just motivates us to be even better than we were last year.”
Kim is excited to see what the Papermakers have for an encore. West Point is still months away. In the meantime, Kim vows to give all he can in the water to make his final high school season worth every minute. He encourages his teammates to do the same.
“Keep in mind that all the actions that you do are to honor your team, your school and your community,” Kim said. “It’s a really big deal for me that things preserve and continue to grow. We’re not just here to win and nothing else. It’s a lot more than that to us. We want to build a family, work hard together and have fun.”