Crowded at pool side

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Swimmers from Camas and Mountain View high schools cheer on their teammates during a wet and wild meet for the league championship Thursday, in Camas.

When the Camas and Mountain View boys swimmers collide, it gets pretty crowded at pool side.

Thursday’s showdown at Grass Valley Aquatics Center in Camas was even more special because the league championship was on the line. The edge of the pool was the place for the Papermakers and the Thunder to be, cheering their lungs out.

“Both teams got behind everybody in the water,” said Camas team co-captain Conner Sullivan. “Showing support for your team is a big part of swimming.”

Mountain View kicked off the pressure cooker by winning the 200-meter medley relay with the state qualifying time of 1 minute, 56.69 seconds. It began a relay sweep for the Thunder, and a league championship clinching 152-134 victory.

“There were a lot of close races. We just didn’t win any of the close ones,” said Camas head coach Mike Bemis. “They outtouched us in every race.”

Nick Kabel won the only race for the Papermakers in a photo finish with Mountain View’s Kyle Law in the 50 freestyle. Kabel clocked in at 25.94 seconds, and Law touched the wall in 25.95 seconds. Bemis said Kabel is on the bubble of qualifying for state in the 50 free, but it would take another 1-second time drop.

Kabel, Jake Yraceburu, Ian Ulmer and Trent Harimoto claimed second in the 200 medley relay (2:00.29). Kabel, Harimoto, Joey Stitzel and Tyler Travis took second in the 200 freestyle relay (1:47.73). Travis, Sullivan, Ulmer and Yraceburu notched third in the 400 freestyle relay (4:14.97).

Individually, Yraceburu snatched second in the 200 individual medley (2:31.47) and third in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.18). He is only two seconds shy of qualifying for state in the breaststroke, but the 200 IM was his favorite swim of the day.

“That was a really exciting race. I wish I would have won, but it was still a good time for me,” Yraceburu said. “That last length felt like lead, but you just got to keep going. My teammates definitely motivated me.”

After losing a tough meet Thursday, Yraceburu had enough left in the tank to go back in the water the next day.

“There’s always a new goal in swimming, whether it’s a time you want to get, somebody you want to beat or a race you want to win,” he said. “It’s better to come work out.”

Sullivan said it helps having coaches and teammates to rely on.

“This only motivates us to swim harder in practice, and to give our all at districts,” he said.

Sullivan clinched third in the 200 freestyle (2:15.97) and the 400 freestyle (4:56.24). Nick Panebianco placed fourth in the 400 free (4:59.87) and Jonathan Schilling claimed fourth in the 200 individual medley (2:46.4). Kevin Li (1:05.87), Harimoto (1:10.54) and Ulmer (1:14.68) went 3-4-5 in the 100 butterfly. Travis took fifth in the 100 free (1:00.78). Jeffrey Lee (1:15.72) and Ulmer (1:16.21) earned fifth and sixth in the 100 backstroke. Seth Albert posted huge time drops in the 200 free (2:23.7) and the 400 free (5:12.49).

The Southwest Washington Invitational is Saturday, at Mark Morris High School. Sub-districts is Wednesday, Feb. 2, at Propstra Pool in Vancouver. Districts is Feb. 11 and 12, in Kelso.

“Our new kids have improved a lot this season. Our bottom is starting to push our top,” Bemi said. “Our top kids need to keep improving, or we won’t have anybody going to the state meet.

“Our goal is to get as many kids as we can qualifed for districts, and we only have two meets left to do it,” he added. “Basically, it’s crunch time.”