Gresham, OR — The Columbia River Swim Team (CRST) had their best showing ever at the annual Speedo Sectionals meet at Mt. Hood Community College this past weekend, with Camas High School’s two-time State champion, Eric Wu, leading the way.

The team itself earned more than 300 points, and Wu’s performance in the 100 Fly Finals earned him a berth on the awards podium. He also earned a personal best time, and set a team record in the 200 IM (2.11.13).

Top college and high school athletes from 11 states convened at Mt. Hood CC in a meet that lasted four days — Thursday through Sunday — to test how far these swimmers can go.

Wu’s big success of the meet was the 100 Fly, in which he earned eighth place while competing against college athletes several years older.

“Every moment leading up to the 100 Fly was nerve-racking,” said Wu. “I just barely made the big A final. I would be swimming with all the big college kids in the heat. After I swam, it was a sense of relief mixed with frustration since I missed the Summer national cut by .2 seconds.”

“I did something different training for the 100 Fly this year,” he added. “In addition to swimming fly every available moment in practice, I also did the 200 Fly in every meet this season. The 200 Fly being double the 100 allowed me to build the base and endurance I needed to finish the 100 Fly strongly. I believe that just swimming so much fly throughout the season gave me the back half I needed to drop so much time in such a short period of time.”


Eric Wu competes in the 200 IM at Speedo Sectionals.

His coach, Darlene Lumbard, was pleased with his performance this weekend, and with the team’s efforts overall.

“Eric did a fantastic job, and we are so proud of him! He comes from a very academic family and they put academics first,” said Lumbard. “We make exceptions for the specialized classes and work with his schedule. Swimming is important to him but we’ve always given that time he needs for academics. He’s a well-balanced athlete.”

“Swimming and academics go well together,” added Lumbard. “The swimming culture is really academic. It’s a lifetime sport and they know it. It’s a great stress relief. It’s like yoga.”

Lumbard said the team overall exceeded her expectations.

“They bonded so well,” she said. “They get up and they raced together. They all worked hard and swam well.”


The 400 Free Relay. From left, Wu, Ilya, Tom, and Max.


On the 200 IM

“On the last day of a four day prelim final meet, multiple swims wear you out both physically and mentally,” said Wu. “Your body is sore and your mind is weak. Having experiencing this, swimming the 200 IM for the second time on Sunday in itself is an accomplishment. However, dropping time and swimming your best is even better. As I was swimming warm up before my event, I kept thinking to myself I was way too sore and too tired to finish the event, let alone drop time. However, on the outside, Darlene said I looked fine. Physically I was fatigued, but what made me even more tired was thinking that way. Honestly, that’s what makes swimming such a hard sport, it’s not the different strokes you have to swim, or even how much you have to swim, the hardest part about swimming is overcoming your brain telling you you can’t do it.”

Photo Gallery

Camas, WA — The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) is honoring Camas High School with the prestigious Scholastic Cup (4A Division) this Thursday, June 7, at 2:30 pm at the CHS main gym.

The students are receiving this award for their athletic, academics and sportsmanship achievements during the 2017-2018 season. Camas took home the 4A Scholastic Cup with WIAA State Championships in Swimming, Gymnastics, and Boys Track and Field. Camas completed the season with nine top-5 finishes in various sports, as well as having nine teams ranked in the top-5 of their respective categories academically.

The honor is the first for the Papermakers, who finished second in the 2016-2017 season. The other Divsion Champions are: Almira Coulee Hartline (1B), Saint George’s (2B), Lynden Christian (1A), Sehome (2A), and Interlake (3A).

The WIAA Cup recognizes performance in the classroom, as well as on the playing field. Schools that finish at the top of their respective classifications in state athletic competition receive points, as do schools that finish at the tops in team academic performance.

Sportsmanship is also a factor, with substantial points deducted for ejections from contests. At the end of the year, the school with the most points in their classification will be awarded the prestigious Scholastic Cup.

To learn more, visit


Kelso, WA — The Camas High School Boys Swim Team completely dominated two days of District swimming, breaking their own meet records, and winning the title by a wide margin.

The Papermakers racked up 323.5 points by winning seven of 12 events outright. Hanford placed second with 206.5 points; third, Union, 171; fourth Richland, 157; and Battle Ground rounded out the top five, with 154 points. A total of 10 schools competed.

”I think winning Districts this year was really important to me,” said State Champion, Mark Kim, who was honored as 4A Swimmer of the Year. “Especially since this is my senior year. I’m definitely proud of these guys. Not just the guys who are part of the state team, but a lot of these kids really stepped it up today, and yesterday, and just really impressed me — especially Luke (Bales) being willing to get up on that relay when Finn was out being injured.”

The boys shined at Friday’s Prelims, breaking the 200 Free Relay meet record, which set the momentum for rest of the meet. Junior Eric Wu felt Friday’s efforts put them into a good spot for Saturday’s Finals.

”I’m really excited about Dave Peddie swimming today,” said Wu before Finals started. “For the 200 IM he’s half a second from going to State so hopefully he makes it.”

Peddie, a Freshman, was both excited and nervous. He was seeded fourth going into Finals.

”I think it’s a good situation to be in,” said Peddie. “It will help me swim fast, and I’m super pumped up about it.”

Peddie ultimately placed third, which guaranteed him a spot to compete at State. See his exuberant response in our YouTube video report.


Mark Kim. Photo by Dan Trujillo.

The attitude Saturday morning was a far cry from a few days ago when the team was nervous about losing to Hanford. They went into Finals with confidence — and it showed in the scores.

They got off to a fast start winning the 200 Medley Relay (1:38.48) with Papermakers Finn McClone, Austin Fogel, Jaden Kim, and Eric Wu. Battle Ground and Union rounded out the top three.

Mark Kim then won the 200 Free (1:42.72) beating back a challenge from Hanford’s Skyler Younkin and John Markillie.

Eric Wu then crushed the competition in the 200 IM (1:54.33). He has grace, speed and powerful strokes that propel him through the pool. Union’s Nick Wahlman placed second (2:02.21), and Peddie, third (2:08.24), which earned him a spot on the State team.

Papermaker Chris Xia placed first in the 50 Free (21.84) nearly breaking the meet record. Battle Ground’s Marcelo Lombardi placed second (22.08) and Union’s Piece Ammentorp placed third (22.22).

Richland dominated 1 meter diving. Tyler Maki won the event (206.45). Ben Douglas, second (201.75) and Ryan McClelland, third (190.35).

Hanford’s Skyler Younkin set a new meet record in the 100 Fly (49.51). Jaden Kim placed second (50.46) and Wu placed third (50.80).


Eric Wu in the 100 Fly. Photo by Dan Trujillo.

In the 100 Free, Walla Walla’s Luke Elmenhurst placed first (48.29) while Papermaker Chris Xia placed second (48.45) and Union’s Pierce Ammentorp placed third (49.11).

Mark Kim completely dominated the 500 Free event (4:44.79). Hanford’s Markillie placed second (4:47.82) and Jack Elliott, also of Hanford, placed third (5:00.23).

Camas also dominated the 200 Free Relay breaking their own day-old meet record (1:27.02) shaving off more than a second from the previous day. Eric Wu, Jaden Kim, Chris Xia, and Mark Kim made it happen. Battle Ground and Hanford rounded out the top three.

Richland’s Addison Pollich won the 100 Back against an injured Finn McClone, who placed second (55.50). Union’s Tony Kajino placed third (55.74).

Camas struggled in the 100 Breast. That event was won by Union’s Val Tikhormirov (59.39). Union’s Nick Wahlman placed second (1:00.90) and Richland’s Connor McShane placed third (27.88).

Luke Bales was summoned at the last minute to replace an injured Finn McClone in the 400 Free. He delivered. The Camas team won (3:15.59). Union (3:26.23) and Hanford (3:27.04) rounded out the top three.


From left: Aaron Le, Jake Duerfeldt, Coach Mike Bemis, Zach Macia, and Luke Bales.

“We came up here knowing we would probably get our six in (Mark Kim, Finn McClone, Eric Wu, Christopher Xia, Jaden Kim and Austin Fogel),” said Head Coach, Mike Bemis. “And then, getting David Peddie in … and with Finn getting injured and having Luke Bales available … he had such an outstanding performance in that 400 Free Relay.”

Bemis said the kids performed well, even with all the things that go on during a meet that you have no control over.

“I’m real proud of these guys,” he said. “Finn McClone and Mark Kim have a good pulse on the team. They have been excellent captains. They’ve held their own meetings with the group, without the coaches, when we needed them. And, we’ve come out of it stronger each time.  We want to swim the best we can at State. Hopefully that includes best times, and that our relays and individuals place well. The one critical factor is we are going to have a tough time competing with those teams who have divers.”

“Because we don’t have divers, we’re going in behind and having to swim out of a hole. We are going to do our best to try and repeat as state champions. That’s our goal. These kids would like to win it two in a row. We just got to wait and see.”

State Prelims start this Friday, with Finals on Saturday at Federal Way.

To learn more, visit



The boys enjoy holding the District trophy.



Kelso, WA — Before Saturday’s Kelso Swim Invitational started, the Camas Boys Swim team weren’t as sure-footed as they usually are before a big meet. With 16 other schools competing, Hanford breathing down their necks, and 10 Camas swimmers missing (including several state champions), Co-Captain Finn McClone wasn’t exactly optimistic.

“So many swimmers are missing today, and Eric (Wu) is totally sick,” said McClone. “Plus I stayed up until 2 last night. Not good.”

They didn’t want to be the first Camas team in recent memory to lose Kelso.

“That would be really bad,” said McClone.

But when the first call to go on deck came, the light turned on. The Camas magic appeared.

During the first event, the 200 Free Relay, the Camas team (McClone, Wu, Chris Xia, and Luke Bales) delivered not only a first place victory, but also a State cut time. This is the first time Bales qualified for a State event.

“I think we have our State team decided now,” said Head Coach, Mike Bemis. “The boys really delivered today. I knew they had it in them. I never doubted it.”

They were just getting warmed up. And, they’d make some Kelso Invitational history before the day was over.

Bemis said the presence of Hanford is part of what keeps Camas on its toes. “Hanford is really good, and they have a lot of talent,” he added.


From left: Junha Lee, Jake Duerfeldt, Zach Macia, and Luke Bales.

Evergreen’s Illia Zablotoviskii won the 200 Free (1:46.39) which is a State cut. He swims for CRST.

Hanford’s John Markillie won the 200 IM (2:00.09) which broke the previous meet record.

“It’s so great to do that after traveling so far today,” said Markillie. “We also love competing with Camas.”

Columbia River’s Josh Bottelberghe won the 50 Free event (21.47) setting a new meet record. Jaron Hamlik held that honor for four years (22.10).

And, bronchitis didn’t stop Eric Wu from breaking a meet record in the 100 Fly (51.19).

”I wasn’t feeling my best today since I’m sick (bronchitis),” said Wu. “But we all have adversities to overcome, and my  team just helped me through that! The energy the team provides can truly do wonders.”

Hanford’s Markillie (48.29) just barely beat McClone in the 100 Free, setting his second meet record of the day.

Camas didn’t compete in the 500 Free, which was won by Zablotoviskii (4:57.81), and Battle Ground won the 200 Free Relay. Camas placed sixth. Addison Pollick, of Richland, won the 100 Back (54.51) with McClone closely behind him.

Wu won the 100 Breast (1:00.41) coming extremely close to beating the meet record (1:00.19). Union’s Nick Wahlman placed second (1:04.28).


Eric Wu won the 100 Breast. He came very close to beating the meet record.

And, in the meet’s final event, the 400 Free Relay, the Papermakers delivered the final blow. Hanford thought they could beat Camas, but the Chris Xia-Junha Lee-Finn McClone-Eric Wu machine was too much for them. The Papermakers won the event (3:19.20) setting a new meet record and beating Hanford by 8 seconds.

”Everyone dropped time and we broke two meet records,” said Wu. “Everyone swam so fast, and it’s just a great environment to compete in. We are back, better than ever — ready for State. Luke Bales has worked so hard. I look forward to having him compete at State. He’s a good addition to the team!”

Final Results

  1. Camas — 529
  2. Hanford — 383
  3. Richland — 362
  4. Union — 244
  5. Battle Ground — 226
  6. Mark Morris — 203
  7. Skyview — 201
  8. Kelso — 179




This team broke the meet record in the 400 Free Relay (3:19.20). From left: Junha Lee, Chris Xia, Eric Wu, and Finn McClone.


Kelso Invitational Photo Gallery

Lacamas Athletic Club, Camas, WA — The Papermaker swim team hosted Battle Ground and Prairie High Schools at Wednesday’s dual meet, beating the competition but acknowledging they have more work to do, as a team, before next week’s Kelso meets.

They also made other news Wednesday: Camas has now qualified three relays for State, as well as Eric Wu in the 200m IM and 100m Back. Mark Kim also made a State cut in the 50m Free, and Jaden Kim in the 100 Fly.

“We’re adjusting after winter break,” said Camas co-captain, Finn McClone. “We didn’t look as good as we should. We’re in recovery from lack of winter training, although a few of us did double duty over the break.”

McClone, Eric Wu, and Dave Peddie put in extra swim training over the holidays to stay on track.

“As a team, we really need to fine tune our strokes,” said Wu. “And, Dave Peddie is an absolute workhorse. He’s very motivated, and he’s inspirational. We’ll be ready for the bigger meets.”

Plus, the boys tried something new Wednesday — Zach Macia sang the National Anthem as Jaden Kim and Dave Peddie held up the American flag.

“It was my own rendition,” said Macia. “I was inspired by Jake, Landon, and Luke to do it.”


Getting ready for the National Anthem. From left: Jaden Kim, Zach Macia, and Dave Peddie.

Swim Event Results

200m Medley Relay

  • 1st Place: Camas — Chris Xia, Jaden Kim, Eric Wu, Mark Kim (1:54.54)
  • 2nd Place: Battle Ground — Alex Curran, Marcelo Lombardi, Sam Anderson, Seth Colpitts (1:56.35)
  • 3rd Place: Camas — Josef Kiesenhofer, Dave Peddie, Jack Harris, Ben Taylor (2:06.17)

200m Free Relay

  • 1st Place: Finn McClone, Camas (2:02.28)
  • 2nd Place: Austin Fogel, Camas (2:09.05)
  • 3rd Place: Junha Lee (2:13.16)

200m IM

  • 1st Place: Eric Wu, Camas (2:15.12)
  • 2nd Place: Alex Curran, Battle Ground (2:25.30)
  • 3rd Place: Chris Xia, Camas (2:26.16)

50m Free

  • 1st Place: Mark Kim, Camas (25.05)
  • 2nd Place: Marcelo Lombardi, Battle Ground  (25.60)
  • 3rd Place: Ben Taylor, Camas (27.14)

50 Free Start.

100m Fly

  • 1st Place: Ben Jones, Prairie (54.94)
  • 2nd Place: Cameron Barnes, Battle Ground (56.14)
  • 3rd Place: Jaden Kim, Camas (59.06)

100m Free

  • 1st Place: Marcelo Lombardi, Battle Ground (56.94)
  • 2nd Place: Sam Anderson, Battle Ground (57.78)
  • 3rd Place: Junha Lee, Camas (58.80)

400m Free

  • 1st Place: Chris Xia, Camas (4:38.89)
  • 2nd Place: Colton Sadler, Prairie (5:01.08)
  • 3rd Place: Drew Forstrom, Battle Ground (5:25.41)

200m Free Relay

  • 1st Place: Battle Ground — Sam Anderson, Seth Colpitts, Alex Curran, Marcelo Lombardi (1:46.98)
  • 2nd Place: Camas — Austin Fogel, Ben Taylor, Luke Bales, Junha Lee (1:47.82)
  • 3rd Place: Prairie — Colton Sadler, Chase Clary, Nathan Tuck, Ben Jones (2:05.62)

Camas Co-Captain Finn McClone.

100m Back

  • 1st Place: Eric Wu, Camas (1:02.57)
  • 2nd Place: Alex Curran, Battle Ground (1:04.01)
  • 3rd Place: Isaiah Ross, Washougal (1:06.24)

100m Breast

  • 1st Place: Austin Fogel, Camas (1:12.81)
  • 2nd Place: Mark Kim, Camas (1:14.41)
  • 3rd Place: Sam Anderson, Battle Ground (1:22.80)

400m Free Relay

  • 1st Place: Camas — Mark Kim, Austin Fogel, Finn McClone, Luke Bales (4:02.28)
  • 2nd Place: Prairie — Ben Jones, Nathan Tuck, Chase Clary, Colton Sadler (4:06.20)
  • 3rd Place: Camas — Jack Harris, Junha Lee, Josef Kiesenhofer, Dave Peddie (4:23.84)


Swim Meet Gallery

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VANCOUVER, WA — The Papermaker Boys Swim Team came out ahead at Thursday’s Propstra Aquatic Center meet against Hudson’s Bay, Columbia River, and Washougal.

Pushing along in their quest to defend their State title, the boys made do at the swim meet without some key swimmers, who were traveling to a private swim club meet up north.

Their absence created a little shifting during key relay events giving underclassmen Dave Peddie, Luke Bales, and Ben Taylor the opportunity to swim a relay with State champion, Mark Kim.

“We just finished our 200 Free Relay,” said Peddie. “The Camas A team got first place, and our times are not bad for this point in the season, but we can definitely build on that, and keep improving.”

Bales, a sophomore, agreed.

“We were led by Mark Kim so that’s a really good thing,” said Bales. “And personally, I hit a PR in the event.”

Propstra Swim Meet Stats

Here’s how things turned out, by event.

200 Free Medley Relay:

  • 1st Place: Camas High School (1:51.31) – Junha Lee, Jakob Duerfeldt, Luke Bales, Austin Fogel.
  • 2nd Place: Columbia River High School (1:51.84) – Daniel Ishchuk, Ben Phelps, Elijah Parish, Simon Parish.
  • 3rd Place: Camas High School (1:57.62) – Sullivan Carrick, Jacob Fenley, James Hatch

200 Free

  • 1st Place:  Junha Lee (2:01.74), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Ben Taylor (2:08.4), of Camas.
  • 3rd Place: Colin Helt (2:27.3), of Columbia River.

Luke Bales starts his relay event.

200 Individual Medley (IM)

  • 1st Place: Austin Fogel (2:08.92), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Dave Peddie (2:17.15), of Camas.
  • 3rd Place: Simon Parish (2:17.45), of Columbia River.

50 Free

  • 1st Place: Mark Kim (23.46 seconds), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Isaiah Ross (23.85 seconds), of Washougal.
  • 3rd Place: Ben Phelps (24.30 seconds), of Columbia River.

100 Butterfly

  • 1st Place: Jaden Kim (56.33 seconds), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Austin Fogel (58.02 seconds), of Camas.
  • 3rd Place: Daniel Brown (58.82 seconds), of Camas.

100 Free

  • 1st Place: Isaiah Ross (51.23 seconds), of Washougal.
  • 2nd Place: Daniel Ishchuk (55.86 seconds), of Columbia River.
  • 3rd Place: Jack Harris (57.29 seconds), of Camas.

500 Free

  • 1st Place: Jaden Kim (5:23.53), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Simon Parish (5:23.53), of Columbia River.
  • 3rd Place: Victor Wu (6:14.81), of Camas.

200 Free Relay

  • 1st Place: Camas High School (1:36.52) – Mark Kim, Luke Bales, Dave Peddie, Ben Taylor.
  • 2nd Place: Columbia River High School (1:39.39) – Elijah Parish, Daniel Ishchuk, Ben Phelps, Simon Parish.
  • 3rd Place: Camas High School (1:44.90) – Timchenko Timofey, Victor Wu, Jakob Duerfeldt, Jack Harris.

100 Backstroke

  • 1st Place: Mark Kim (58.84), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Daniel Ishchuk (1:01.35), of Columbia River.
  • 3rd Place: Daniel Brown (1:02.10), of Washougal.

100 Breaststroke

  • 1st Place: Danilo Kamenko (1:12.05), of Camas.
  • 2nd Place: Jakob Duerfeldt (1:12.95), of Camas.
  • 3rd Place: Elijah Parish (1:14.20), of Columbia River.

400 Free Relay

  • 1st Place: Camas High School (3:36.25) – Jaden Kim, Austin Fogel, Mark Kim.
  • 2nd Place: Camas High School (3:54.85) – Dave Peddie, Ben Taylor, Luke Bales, Timchenko Timofey.
  • 3rd Place: Camas High School (4:03.56) – Josef Kiesenhofer, Jack Harris, Danilo Kamenko, Victor Wu.

To learn more, visit

Swim Meet Gallery

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LONGVIEW, WA — The Camas High Boys Swim team (the 2017 4A State swimming champions) handily defeated RA Long and Mark Morris in their first meet of the season. The fast-moving meet got off to a good start with a win by the Camas 200 Medley Relay team, which included Finn McClone, Jaden Kim, Austin Fogel, and Mark Kim.

Meet Results:

  • Washougal’s Isaiah Ross won the 200 Free, and was followed by Papermaker Freshmen Jack Harris, and Dave Peddie.
  • State Champion and Camas co-captain, Mark Kim, won the 200 IM, and was followed by Papermaker’s Finn McClone and Junha Lee.
  • Jaden Kim won the 50 Free event, and Luke Bales placed second.
  • Jaden Kim also won the 100 Fly, and Fogel placed second.
  • Mark Kim won the 100 Free event, and Zachary Macia placed second.
  • Ross won the 500 Free event, while Peddie placed second.
  • Mark Morris won the 200 Free Relay.
  • McClone won the 100 Back event, and Macia placed second. Fogel won the 100 Breast, while Aaron Lee placed second.
  • And, in the 400 Free Relay, the team of Jaden Kim, Fogel, McClone, and Mark Kim won.

“This was a small dual meet so we just pushed through,” said Mark Kim. “We’re definitely working our hardest at every practice and improving our time, but we are focusing on the bigger meets.”

What’s next?

The boys head to Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA this Saturday for a tougher, more competitive meet.

“It’ll be a 15-hour day,” said McClone. “We leave Camas at 5:30 am this Saturday. It’ll be good to see the competition from that part of the state.”

To learn more, visit

Swim Image Gallery

It’s one week into the new school swim season, and the reigning 4A state champion Camas boys swim team is working hard to find a way back to the state awards podium.

“We’re trying to find 2-4 kids to fill the void of two seniors we lost last year,” said Head Coach, Mike Bemis, who himself was honored as Coach of the Year. “We’re trying to fill Jeff’s (Fadlovich) spot and Tom’s (Utas) spot and I’m not sure how many juniors, sophomores, and freshmen we have to do that. Right now, we have the six returning from State, and now we need some others to step up.”

He added it’s very early in the season, with the first regular season meet several weeks away. The boys swim team has had a string of District Championships, and since 2012 they’ve been getting closer each year to clinching the State title, which they finally did in February 2017. They had the right mix of winning individual and relay performances to propel them over the top.

Team Co-captain Mark Kim, who is the reigning 4A State champion in the 200 Free and 500 Free events, looks forward to the journey this season. Senior Finn McClone is the other team captain. He was preparing for the Salem Open meet during interview time.

“The team’s accomplishments last year were really big,” said Kim. “It’s a really big legacy we have to live up to this year, and this being my senior year, it makes me want that State title even more. We have some talented underclassmen that will help us get there.”

This year’s squad is 30 athletes strong, with six seniors, 10 juniors, six sophomores, and eight freshmen. The team is comprised of swimmers from local swim clubs — Columbia River Swim Team (CRST), Lacamas Athletic Club, and Portland Athletic Club (PAC), as well as athletes from Washougal.

“We swim about four miles each day,” said freshman, Dave Peddie, with a big smile. “Morning, night, lunch time.”

To learn more, visit


State Champion swimmer, Mark Kim, help lead the Camas Boys Swim team win the State title earlier this year.

Swim Team Image Gallery

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As state champion swimmer and 2017 Camas graduate, Tom Utas, embarks on his college career at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, we look back at his high school swimming career, how it took shape, and what it did for his character and those around him.

Last February, Utas won first place in the State 4A 50 Free Swim event (21.07), and was a leader for his Camas swim team that took first place at State — the first time in Camas history. At that same State meet, he added another team record placing third in the 100 Free (46.74). It was a moment he and his team will never forget, and one they spent years preparing.

Leading up to that are multiple District Championship titles, dozens of personal placements, and more recently, Utas reset two Columbia River Swim Team (CRST) team records at the OSI Arena Championships this past summer.  Tom went 24.15 in the 50 Free and 53.34 in the 100 Free. He also swam in the Finals at Future Nationals in August, which shows colleges that a swimmer is up for anything.

“I think swimming taught me to be part of something that allowed me to be a better version of myself,” said Utas. “Competitions pushing my limit to achieve goals I never thought possible, and being part of a team of swimmers and a coaching staff that provides you with the connections to build friendships and trust among peers through training and teamwork. I’m grateful for the opportunities that the sport and my team has given me, and the lesson and work ethic it gave me is what inspires me to continue to swim today, and remember the positive memories the sport gave me.”

Utas, along with his older brother, John, spent four years swimming for Camas, bringing home a large cache of medals and personal, as well as team achievements. He also swam for 10 years with CRST, and was coached by Darlene Hill, and Mike Bemis.

“He’s always ready to race, he has a racing mentality,” said teammate, Max Dolbinin, a 2017 Heritage High graduate. “Especially on the relays, if we need a certain time out of him, we always now he will execute it. Racing against him is always fun because we always push each other to our limits.”



Tom competes in the 50 Free at Districts in 2016.


Utas speaks fondly of his coaches and teammates through the years.

“They always pushed me to excel, and were supportive at every practice, and at every race,” said Utas. “What I’ve enjoyed the most are the friendships with my teammates and coaches.”

The feeling is mutual.

Hill sat down and talked about the history with Utas, and what he’s meant to their team.

“Tom and his brother, John, had been swimming at another club, which had changed their coaching management,” said Hill. “Things didn’t work out there, and so after working with them here, we learned pretty quickly they’re sprinters. Specifically, they’re drop dead sprinters, and can really only do condensed, specific practice sessions. We knew quickly how to work on what they needed to be successful. A true drop dead swimmer can’t do longer events repeatedly.”

Hill said they trained Tom was trained on technique and high focus skills for racing. Those high focus skills include racing off the block, and building up core energy. He focused on these skills at every practice, and it paid off.

“He’d get his center of balance and hold that for a long period of time,” said Hill. “He have me watch and we’d work on that together. You get faster when you focus.”

She said Tom lead the team on how to be a natural swimmer, and because of his achievements, he’s helped make the CRST swim program grow.

“Tom helped carry this,” said Hill. “He’s given so much to the sport, and has encouraged so many other swimmers to excel.”

Bemis agrees.

“He’s been a great competitor for Camas,” said Bemis, who coached him as he presented Camas High School for four years. “He’s been a great leader.”

Utas said he loves the sport, and that being part of such a great program has made him a better person overall.

“I am so grateful for all these experiences,” said Utas. “It’s all been great.”



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A Bright Future for Utas

Utas has just started to swim at the collegiate level for the University of Lethbridge while studying Biochemistry. He’s looking forward to swimming at a higher level, while studying for a promising career.

“He’ll do well at whatever he tries,” said Hill. “We will miss Tom. He’s been a big part of our club.”

To learn more, visit

KELSO — For the second weekend in a row, a Camas High School team has won a District title. Last week, it was Wrestling. This weekend, it was the Camas Boy’s Swim team. And, it wasn’t just a story of wins, it was also a story of old records being smashed. Really old records.

The Papermaker victory, with a final score of 403 points, was a solid effort lead by several freshmen and sophomores, who are doing things that usually happen to juniors and seniors.


The entire team enjoying the moment of victory.



Holding the District Championship Trophy. From left: Daniil Timchenko, Eric Wu, and Noah Macia. Photo by Blake Schnell.


While, the Papermakers won multiple events, one of the best stories of Saturday afternoon at the Kelso High School pool, was sophomore Mark Kim’s victory in the 500 Free event with a time of 4:37.62, breaking a meet record, and a pool record held since 1973. He broke the record by 4 seconds. In swim speak, my friends, that’s jaw dropping.

“It feels great,” said Kim, who had little time to savor his victory. He needed to move onto his next event, the 200 Free Relay. His teammates say he just gets the job done, day in and day out. He loves what he does.

“Everybody is excited and happy,” said Kim. “We’ve had a lot of great swims today.”



Mark Kim savoring his victory in the 500 Free, as he broke a record that was made in 1973. Photo by Blake Schnell.

Setting the tone early

Earlier in the meet, Kim won the 200 Free (1:44.93). And, the tone of the meet was set at the beginning when Papermakers Eric Wu, Finn McClone, Chris Xia, and Austin Fogel won the 200 Medley Relay (1:43.95).

Then Freshman Eric Wu won the 200 IM (1:57.07).



Tom Utas entering the pool during one of the events. Photo by Blake Schnell.


“This is just surreal what’s happened today,” said Wu. “Countless years of practice with club swimming (at Lacamas Swim and Sport) have resulted in such a successful day. I look forward to State, and will try to make it to Finals.”

In the 50 Free, Max Dolbinin, of Heritage, won the event (21.64). Papermaker Tom Utas placed second (22.36).

Union’s Andrew Chang bested everyone in the 100 Fly (53.61), and Max Dolbinin blew everyone away in the 100 Free, setting a new meet record (47.83).

Camas again returned to the No. 1 spot in the 200 Free Relay with Luke Albert, Eric Wu, Mark Kim, and Tom Utas, delivering a time of 1:31.85.

Finn McClone won the 100 Back (55.11) and Jeff Fadlovich placed second (56.17).

“It’s been a great meet,” said Fadlovich. “I got a PR (personal record) and the team overall did very well.”

Wu delivered another first place finish in the 100 Breast (1:01.49), followed by Christ Joa, of Mountain View (1:06.07).

And, in the final event of the District Championships, Camas won the 400 Free Relay with a time of 3.19.97, setting a new pool and meet record. The team consisted of Luke Albert, Chris Xia, Mark Kim, and Tom Utas.



The 400 Free Relay winners: From left, Chris Xia, Tom Utas, Mark Kim, and Luke Albert. Photo by Blake Schnell.

The top 5 teams were as follows:

  • Camas (403 points)
  • Mountain View (245 points)
  • Union (217 points)
  • Skyview (103 points)
  • Battle Ground (86 points)

All first and second place winners move onto State competition at Federal Way.



Ian Pinch enters the water. Photo by Blake Schnell.



Daniil Timchenko enters the pool. Photo by Blake Schnell.



Luke Albert warms up prior to victory in the 400 Free Relay. Photo by Blake Schnell.