Papermaker swimmers launch to state meet

Pool records propel Camas to district title

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The Camas High School boys swimming team creamed the competition at the 4A district championship meet Saturday, winning by a 158-point margin.

“Districts was the test to see if we could hold our position,” said junior Tom Utas. “We performed above our expectations. We had so many state qualifying times, meet and pool records. It was impressive. I can’t wait for state.”

Sophomore Mark Kim broke a 43-year-old Kelso High School pool record in the 500-meter freestyle. He completed 10 laps in 4 minutes, 37.43 seconds to win the event by 29.56 seconds.

“I’m really thankful to be able to accomplish something that great,” Kim said. “Everything I have been working on this season has led up to that.”

Kim also set a meet record in the 200 freestyle, winning with a time of 1:44.93. He and his Papermaker teammates saved their best for last. Luke Albert, Christopher Xia, Kim and Utas captured the 400 freestyle relay district championship with a pool record time of 3:19.97.

Albert set the Mean Machine in motion with a 50.23 second first lap.

“I did not expect to go that fast. It was pretty awesome,” he said. “Everyone else just fought through the pain, and we got a great time out of it.”

“We’re all really proud of each other,” Kim added. “[Utas] really brought it home.”

“As soon as I finished, everyone was screaming,” Utas recalled. “That was wonderful. It’s a moment to remember.”

Camas racked up 403 points to win the seven-school district meet. Mountain View took second place with 245 points and Union followed in third place with 217 points.

Finn McClone, Eric Wu, Xia and Austin Fogel got Camas off on the first foot by winning the 200 medley relay in 1:43.95. Kim, Albert (1:50.63) and Andrey Khabibrakhmanov (1:53.06) finished in the top three for the Papermakers in the 200 freestyle.

Wu won the 200 individual medley in 1:57.07. McClone took third, Maxwell Crowson claimed fifth (2:17.71) and Zachary Macia notched sixth (2:19.36). Utas snagged second place in the 50 free (22.36 seconds) and the 100 free (48.5). Xia earned second place in the 100 butterfly (56.39), followed by Fogel in third (56.56) and Khabibrakhmanov in fifth (58.43).

Kim, Fogel (5:05) and Jeff Fadlovich (5:09.93) finished top three in the 500 free, and Noah Macia notched fifth (5:29.91). Albert, Wu, Kim and Utas won the 200 free relay (1:31.85).

McClone clinched first place in the 100 backstroke (55.11), and Fadlovich followed in second place (56.17). McClone is thrilled with his progress after getting off to a slow start this season due to a back injury.

“I pulled a muscle and missed the first three weeks,” he said. “I hope to have a better swim at state. The nerves got to me last time. I’m going back more mature and ready to throw down a good time.”

Wu wrapped up his day by winning the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.49. The freshman won four district titles.

“All of my hard work in practice, and waking up so early, it really paid off,” Wu said. “I hope to get to the state finals, swim with the fastest of the fastest, and see where that takes me.”

One more pool record and victory in the 400 freestyle relay capped off four districts titles for Kim, as well.

“I came in with the mindset that I wanted to win,” he said. “I gave it everything I had, and that’s what happened. I’m really happy.”

Eight Camas swimmers will compete in the 4A state championship meet Friday and Saturday, at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way. A few more Papermakers could join them as alternates on the relay teams or wild card entries based on their times at districts.

“State is going to be the true test,” Utas said. “It’s awesome seeing this team grow. It’s the coolest part of this sport. Everyone wanted to put in 100 percect effort to get those times, records and that team championship.”