VANCOUVER, WA — Columbia River Swim Team’s (CRST) Sammy Empey, 12, loves to swim, even if he has to be at the pool before dawn for a 5:30 am practice.
“I tell him it’s OK to skip some of those early morning practices,” says his mom, Camille, “but, he’s always up on his own ready to be driven to the pool. He has a solid work ethic, and absolutely loves to swim. He’s very driven.”
Empey’s passion for the sport of swimming is resulting in some stellar swim times. The ever-focused, bright and happy, Empey, turned heads this year with not one, but four top 10 nationally ranked USA Swimming times for his age group. He’s No. 2 in the nation for the 100 meter Freestyle, or 100m Free as swimmers call it, with a time of 1:00.35.
He also nationally ranks No. 6 in the 50m Fly (29.94), No. 6 in the 100m Fly (1:06.65), and No. 7 in 50m Free (27.88).
“He’s very focused at every practice,” said his coach, Darlene Hill. “He listens, has fun, and encourages others to improve. He’s a delight to have on the team.”
For him, the sport is fun, but he also has some lofty goals.
“What drives me right now is the State records,” said Sammy. “Those are really hard because I’m young, but I still try by going to practice everyday. I love that my teammates help me everyday. I hate to practice when there are no people there, when there’s no one to push me. They keep me on my feet and push me to get to the next level.”
Hill said the team rallies around each athlete to help them get to where they want to be.
“There’s a real support system here,” said Hill. “And, if a swimmer wants to reach a certain goal, we help them achieve it.”
Empey Boys Breaking Records
“When he first started swimming a few years ago,” said Camille. “He saw the individual records on the wall, and told me he would break all of them. He’s starting to do that now.”
His younger brother, Steven, is just as driven, and likes to compete with Sammy.
The Empey brothers broke team records at the Salem Open, in November. Steven broke the 50 Back (33.91) and Sammy broke the 50 Free (24.32), 50 Fly (27.02) and 100 Back (1:01.45) records. Sammy also set four team records at the same meet.
Sammy went 2:10.60 in the 200 IM, 53.18 in the 100 Free, 1:01.89 in the 100 Back, and 27.98 in the 50 Back.
“My coaches help with the swimming techniques,” said Sammy. “But they also help us just be good people.”