As the state meet approaches, some swimmers devise an elaborate regime for eating, sleeping and training to maximize their potential for victory. And then there’s Edward Kim.
The Eastlake High School senior’s plan is just five words: Go out with a bang.
And if he happens to make history, even better.
Kim is poised to become just the second male swimmer in Washington to win eight individual state titles at the Class 4A meet this weekend.
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If he is victorious in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Kim will have won every state event of his high school career. He already holds a pair of titles in the 50 freestyle, as well as the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
The hype doesn’t faze the Harvard-bound Kim, though. In 2012, he qualified for the Olympic Trials.
“I think I perform best under pressure,” he said. “I guess I use it to my advantage and enjoy it, because I wouldn’t be swimming if I didn’t enjoy it so much.”
Kim has attracted attention for swimming a 50 freestyle in the 20-second range, but he said he wants to “experiment” for his final high school meet, where he could join Eastside Catholic’s Ethan Hallowell in the history books. Hallowell won eight freestyle titles between 2008-11.
“This whole four years of high school swimming has been a journey,” Kim said. “Now it’s almost coming to a close, so I just want to go out with a bang.
“This is what I have been looking forward to since my senior year.”
As Eastlake’s captain, Kim said he is even more excited to see his team fares. The Sammamish school, which has never finished higher than fifth at state, won its first-ever team title this season by tying with Roosevelt as KingCo Conference champions.
“It’s just a race against the clock and against other people,” he said. “And Eastlake has stepped up every year at state.”
Kim started swimming at age 5, but contemplated trading the pool for the tennis court in middle school. His mom talked him out of it, and when he switched to the Bellevue Club team, he found the motivation he needed.
“Swimming is one of those sports where you don’t know if your hard work is paying off until the very end,” he said. “But when it does, it’s the greatest feeling ever.”
Kim is no stranger to reaping the benefits of hard work. He carries a 3.96 grade-point average and is considering careers in economics, physics and civil engineering.
“I’m so thankful and blessed to have this opportunity to swim at Harvard,” he said. “Just the name resonates through most young people’s minds.”
And he hasn’t ruled out another shot at the Olympics.
“Rather than racing at my best, it was primarily an experience for me,” he said of the trials in Omaha, Neb., during which he swam alongside the likes of gold medalists Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte.
“They’ve worked so hard to get there, and you think, ‘Maybe I didn’t work as hard as the others,’” he said. “It really motivates me in the pool.”
WIAA STATE BOYS SWIMMING CHAMPIONSHIPS
Friday-Saturday, King County Aquatic Center, Federal Way
2013 state team champions: 4A – Kamiak. 3A – Lakeside of Seattle. 2A/1A – Archbishop Murphy.
Returning local state champions: 4A – Chase Bublitz, Kentridge (100 freestyle, 200 freestyle); Brian Woodbury, Curtis (100 backstroke). 2A/1A – Benjamin Scott, Steilacoom (100 freestyle, 100 backstroke).
Schedule: Friday – 4A preliminaries are from 9:45 a.m.-noon; 2A preliminaries are from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; 3A preliminaries are from 6:15 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Saturday – 4A finals are from 10 a.m.-noon; 2A finals are from 2:30 p.m.-4:30 p.m.; 3A finals are from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Scouting report: 4A – Only once – in 2011 – has a boy has won his eighth state individual swimming title. But this weekend, Eastlake’s Edward Kim will try to match what Eastside Catholic’s Ethan Hallowell (2008-11) did. Kim, a Harvard signee, is the heavy favorite in the 200-yard freestyle (1:40.51) with the fastest seed time by more than four seconds. And if somebody is going to catch him in the 100 free (45.70), it likely would be Gig Harbor’s Erik Nielsen. ... Kentridge’s Chase Bublitz was the defending 100 and 200 champion in 4A, but will instead try and win state titles in the 100 butterfly (No. 1 seed at 51.08) and 500 free (No. 2 seed at 21.48). The 50 free final is between Bublitz, Federal Way’s Thomas Anderson (21.26), who captured the West Central District title, and Nielsen (21.69). ... Georgia Tech-bound Brian Woodbury of Curtis is on pace to become a multiple state-title winner. He is the favorite to defend his 100 backstroke (with a WCD-record 49.69) and has the fastest 200 IM mark (WCD record 1:52.84) by more than four seconds. ... WCD champion Curtis, Gig Harbor and Issaquah head the list of co-favorites for the team crown.
3A – Who usually rules the roost? It is the Sea-King District champion, and in this case, five-time 3A champion Mercer Island (2007-11) leads the parade. The Islanders have nine entrants ranked in the top three in their respective events, including No. 1 seeds in the 200 free relay (1:28.09), 400 free relay (3:10.21) and senior Noah Deiparine in the 100 free (47.20). ... If Mercer Island stumbles, Sea-King runner-up Bellevue and two-time defending 3A champion Lakeside of Seattle could benefit the most. ... Kennedy Catholic’s Thomas Thach was 3A’s only multiple individual winner last season, and not only is he the favorite to repeat in the 200 IM (1:53.48), he could threaten the meet record in the 100 butterfly (his time is 50.04; the meet record is 49.48, set by Issaquah’s Evan Taylor in 1999). ... Peninsula’s Caleb Riggs is vying to become the school’s first state swimming champion since Aki McFarlane (2010 backstroke). Riggs is the top seed in the 100 breaststroke (58.75).
2A – The team championship figures to be a three-school battle between defending state champion Archbishop Murphy, WCD winner Lindbergh and Steilacoom. The Sentinels hold the fastest marks in four events, led by siblings Benjamin (100 butterfly, 100 backstroke) and James Scott (100 breaststroke). Benjamin is the defending 2A champion in the 100 backstroke. And if the contenders are separated by mere points heading into the final event, Steilacoom has a clear advantage in the 400 freestyle relay, ranked No. 2 behind Anacortes. .... Archbishop Murphy boasts equal star power with Stephen Boden, the defending 500 freestyle champion, and Austin Barnard (No. 1 seed in 200 free).
Tickets: Single day: $9 for adults, $7 for students/seniors. Tournament passes: $15 for adults, $10 for students/seniors.