A pool is Beale’s sandbox

Camas 8-year-old claims four gold medals at state

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Some 2-year-olds play in a sandbox. Tommy Beale jumped into a swimming pool.

“I thought I better put him in swimming lessons so I wouldn’t have to jump in and save him,” said his mother, Linda. “He was able to swim across the pool by the time he was 3, and he joined the swim team when he was 4.”

On July 15 to 17, the 8-year-old from Camas captured four gold medals for the Columbia River Swim Team at the Oregon Swimming 10-and-younger Long Course Championships, in Bend, Ore. Beale snatched first place in the 50-meter breaststroke, with a time of 47.97 seconds. He also finished first in the 50 butterfly in 44.99. the 50 backstroke in 45.51 and the 100 freestyle in 1:24.51.

“It was very relieving and awesome when I popped up as the winner in those races,” Beale said. “It felt really good going fast the water, like I was flying.”

“He had an outstanding meet,” added Beale’s coach Mark McBride. “He’s been working really hard to achieve those watermarks, and it shows that his hard work is paying off.”

Linda Beale said Tommy is a natural in the breaststroke. It all starts with his dive.

“I usually dive really far, and that kind of gives me a head start,” Tommy said.

“He’s already close to halfway across the pool before he comes up for air,” Linda said.

Once he breaks the surface, he starts making waves. Beale’s fastest time in the 50 breaststroke is a 45.84, which is about five-tenths of a second off the Oregon record for 8-year-old’s that was set in 1989. Before he turns 9 in December, Beale said he would love to break the record in the 25, 50 or 100 breaststroke.

“He’s very aggressive out there, and he pushes himself to be better than he was before,” McBride said. “He’s never satisfied with second place. He’s always trying to get the best times. As long as he keeps working as hard as he has been, any one of those records is in danger of being broken.”

In March, Beale advanced all the way to the Northwest Age Group Sectionals meet at the King County Aquatics Center in Federal Way. There were more than 100 swimmers from seven different states at the event.

Beale dedicates his gold medals to his coaches and his family. His advice for first-time swimmers is to go ahead and take the plunge, and not be afraid of the water. That “no fear” attitude Beale possesses is something that McBride appreciates.

“He represents our team well. He shows that hard work pays off,” McBride said. “I just want him to continue to enjoy the sport, have fun and keep swimming fast.”