State swim champs share spotlight

Papermakers ready to race for more glory

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Camas swimmers Chris Xia, Finn McClone, Eric Wu, Mark Kim and Jaden Kim (left to right) are back from last season's state championship squad and ready to race for more glory. Not pictured: Austin Fogel.

After capturing the program’s first state team championship, the Camas boys swimmers are ready to make another big splash in 2018.

Senior captains Mark Kim and Finn McClone have been a part of the team’s second place state finish in 2015, fourth place finish in 2016 and first place finish in 2017. Also returning from that pinnacle season are juniors Eric Wu, Chris Xia and Austin Fogel, and sophomore Jaden Kim.

“Mark and I have won three state trophies. We want the fourth one,” McClone said. “We have to make sure everyone’s pushing their hardest in practice and showing up to the meets ready to perform. Have fun while doing it, but don’t joke around during the race. Get the race done and support your teammates during their races.”

If the Papermakers need motivation, their state championship banner greets them every morning and afternoon in the entryway to the pool at LaCamas Swim & Sport.

“Some universities have their banners across the entryway to their pool. Every time they come to practice or compete, they slap it,” Mark Kim said. “The energy and motivation to come here every day and work hard is there when we see that banner. I think it just sets the mood and sets the tone. We’re here to work and we’re here to see if we can win it again.”

After coaching swimming for almost 50 years, winning state was a first for Mike Bemis. He has spent 15 of those years in Camas, after stops in Eisenhower and Anacortes, Washington.

“That’s something that was 50 years in the making,” Bemis said.

“You always hope everything’s going to go your way, but until we actually stood up on that podium, I wasn’t sure,” he added. “We have great kids coming through the program who are stepping up and meeting the challenges for us at every level. It all tops off with that banner. Nine great kids ended their season on the podium holding up that trophy.”

Camas returns to action with a big target on its back, but all welcomes 11 freshmen to the pool.

“I think we like having a target on our back,” McClone said. “The key thing is, it was a ton of fun and we just need to carry the fun. If you’re having fun and you’re working hard, it’s success all the way.”

Bemis said the first step is to find the racers who can replace graduating captains Tom Utas, Jeff Fadlovich and Luke Albert. He expects Kim, McClone and the rest of the veterans to carry on the Camas tradition.

“They have to enjoy the process,” Bemis said. “They have to enjoy coming here every day, and they have to train harder than they did the day before. If we do all of that, and we stay healthy, everything will fall into place for us.”