Kasey Calwell completed the backstroke, butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle laps in a personal best time of 1 minute, 54.23 seconds during Saturday’s 4A state swimming meet, at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
The junior from Camas was chasing Brian Woodbury, of Curtis, who won the 200 individual medley state championship with an All-American time of 1:50.31. Calwell came in second.
Both swimmers were gasping for air as they stood on the podium. Calwell breathed in his big moment with glee. Nothing could wipe the smile off his face.
“Standing on those blocks is one of the most nerve racking moments, but it’s also the most fun,” Calwell said. “You can feel the whole school and the community pulling for you. Every time I’m up there, it’s like ‘what can I do to make my family proud, my coaches proud and my teammates proud.’”
In an excellent showing of good sportsmanship and respect, Calwell shook Woodbury’s hand after they both received their medals. They shared a few words before stepping off the podium and preparing for their next event.
“I told him, ‘incredible swim. That was freaky fast,’” Calwell said. “He looked at me and said, ‘you’re only a junior? This will be your event next year.’ I was happy to hear that from a swimmer like him.”
Calwell delivered a stronger encore, and finished in second place in the 100 breaststroke. He made two trips to the end of the pool and back in 58.5 seconds, another personal best. Roosevelt’s Keith Schendel won the event with a time of 57.13 seconds.
“The breaststroke is an exciting race because it goes by so quick. Every single move you make, you cannot make a mistake,” Calwell said. “This just adds to my goals of winning state and pushing myself to the next level. After all the hard work I have put into this sport since I was 6-years-old, next year is kind of the apex.”
The day started out so promising for the Papermakers. They won the 4A academic state championship award for the second year in a row. Calwell’s two second-place finishes kept the energy alive. Lucas Ulmer also finished in fourth place in the 100 butterfly championship (52.16).
Calwell, Tom Utas, Ulmer and John Utas earned eighth place in the 200 medley relay championship race (1:39.09). John Utas, Xiaguang Yan, Tom Utas and Jeff Fadlovich took third place in the 200 freestyle relay consolation race (1:31.99). John Utas also finished fourth in the 50 freestyle consolation race (22.61).
Camas bounced between sixth, seventh and eighth place in the team standings, before ending the day in ninth place. The fluctuating results were captured during the final race of the day. The Papermakers fell behind early in the 400 freestyle relay, battled back into contention for the lead, but then fell back to seventh place in 3:15.31.
After that frustrating end, the smile on Calwell’s face had disappeared.
“We dropped three seconds off our time only to end up in the same place as last year,” he said. “That just breaks your heart, but it goes to show the incredible competition up here.”
Calwell had to reflect on the season as a whole before grinning again.
“To go undefeated in all our meets, win districts and get nine swimmers to state is an incredible feat,” he said. “Remember how this feels, and imagine what it will feel like to get to the top of that podium. That’s where we want to go. Ninth place is not where we want to be.”