FEDERAL WAY — Vlad and Slava Gilszmer have spent much of their lives training side by side in the pool.
On high school swimming’s biggest stage Saturday night, their years of hard work paid off in grand fashion.
The Kamiak sophomore twins finished 1-2 in the 500-yard freestyle and helped power their team to a relay victory, highlighting a strong showing by the Knights during the Class 4A boys state swim and dive championships at King County Aquatic Center.
“It feels amazing,” Vlad said. “I’ve been training hard for this for a lot of years. … (Slava) helps me work harder, because me and him always race each other during practice. We push each other.”
Vlad burst to an early lead in the 500 freestyle and continued to distance himself from the rest of the field throughout the race, churning through the water with his tall frame for a winning time of 4 minutes, 35.12 seconds. He finished nearly 5.5 seconds ahead of second-place Slava and eight seconds in front of the third-place swimmer.
“That felt pretty good,” said Vlad, who placed second in the 500 freestyle last year as a freshman. “I tried taking off fast, and I think it worked.”
In the final race of the meet, the Gilszmer twins teamed with junior Maxwell Fang and senior Alex Kirby to give Kamiak a 400 freestyle relay victory. The Knights led throughout and finished in 3:09.73 to beat second-place Curtis by 0.85 seconds.
“It was amazing,” Vlad said after anchoring the relay state title. “All of our members worked hard for this moment right here.”
Kamiak also placed third in an ultra-fast 200 freestyle relay, finishing just 0.44 seconds behind state champion Moses Lake. The Knights’ team of junior Brian Park, Fang and the Gilszmer twins finished in 1:26.84, which was the eighth-fastest time in 4A state meet history.
That blistering time was made even more impressive by the fact it came in the second consecutive event for the Gilszmer twins, who took the top two spots in the 500 freestyle just about 10 minutes earlier.
Vlad, Slava and Fang each finished with a state medal in all four events they competed in, earning two individual medals and two relay medals apiece.
Fang took third place in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:41.57, followed by Vlad in fourth (1:43.29) and Slava in sixth (1:45.02). Fang also placed fourth in the 100 freestyle (46.75).
Led by the talented trio of freestylers, Kamiak took fifth place in the 4A team standings with 178 points. It was the eighth top-five state team finish in the past 12 seasons for the Knights. Skyline captured the team title with 271 points.
“Our teammates are really encouraging,” Fang said. “We really push each other, and that’s what really made me swim fast.”
JACKSON SWIMMER EARNS PAIR OF TOP-3 MEDALS
Jackson junior Justin Limberg claimed a pair of top-three individual medals, but fell just short of a state title.
Racing down the final stretch of the 100 breaststroke, Limberg was out-touched at the wall by North Creek senior Brandon Stride. Limberg finished in second place with a time of 56.94 seconds, just 0.33 seconds behind Stride.
“It’s just a little bit more motivation to work a little bit harder next time to make sure that you don’t get out-touched again in a situation like this,” Limberg said. “So I’m a little disappointed with how I did, but overall I think it will be good motivation going forward.”
Stride, who received 4A swimmer of the meet honors, is teammates with Limberg on their WEST Coast Aquatics club team.
“We’re used to training with each other a lot,” Limberg said. “The WEST Coast Aquatics team is kind of stacked with breaststrokers, so it’s always fun to be able to race each other.”
Limberg also placed third in the 200 individual medley (1:54.04) and teamed with sophomore Tony Kim, senior Pryce Umemoto and freshman Jensen Elsemore to give the Timberwolves a sixth-place medal in the 200 medley relay (1:39.00).
CASCADE DIVER PLACES 3RD
Cascade senior diver Joseph Hofman capped his prep career with a third consecutive state medal, placing third in the talent-laden 4A diving competition.
Hofman posted a score of 434 points, which would have won last year’s 4A title. Auburn Riverside junior Andrew Adam won Saturday’s state crown with 470.7 points.
“He had a fantastic meet,” Cascade dive coach JoLynne Abbe said of Hofman, a third-year diver who only dives during the high school season because of a busy extracurricular schedule.
“I think it’s (even) more incredible based on the fact that each year he really only dives (three months),” she added. “I don’t even know if the word amazing even counts. … It’s just phenomenal.”
Hofman began diving as a sophomore, capping his first season with a seventh-place state medal. He then earned a state runner-up finish last year before claiming another top-three medal Saturday.
“It’s still kind of sinking in,” Hofman said. “I really have no words to describe the amount of gratitude that I have toward the sport. It’s given me so much over the past couple years, and being able to podium during my time in the sport has really just been kind of a cherry on top.”
Hofman said he definitely didn’t expect to be a three-time state medalist when he began diving less than three years ago.
“Definitely not in a million years,” he said with a laugh. “I just remember my first feeling my sophomore year being up on the podium completely not expecting that at all. And just being able to continue that the past couple years has been … just a surreal feeling. I could not be happier.”
CASCADE SWIMMER WINS ADAPTIVE RACE
Cascade junior Henry Nguyen defended his crown in the adaptive 50 freestyle by swimming a record-setting time of 26.82 seconds, edging second-place Ben Stanton of Kentwood by 0.12 seconds. Nguyen broke his own state meet record from last season by more than 1.7 seconds.
Nguyen also placed third in the adaptive 50 backstroke (37.60).