FEDERAL WAY — It was a banner day for Snohomish County high school swimming.
The Class 4A boys swim and dive state championships had a definite Wesco flavor, with local swimmers and relay teams combining to win five of the meet’s 12 events Saturday at King County Aquatic Center.
And of the seven 4A state-meet records broken during an ultra-fast day of competition, three of them came from Snohomish County swimmers and relay teams.
The county totaled 22 state medals in the meet, including 12 top-three state finishes. Four local schools earned top-10 finishes in the team standings.
“There were so many impressive swims today,” Kamiak coach Chris Erickson said. “It was pretty amazing. Wesco had a great showing.”
Glacier Peak phenom breaks pair of state records
For nearly three decades, the overall state-meet records in the sprint freestyle events remained untouched.
Matthew King broke both of them during a historic performance Saturday morning.
The Glacier Peak senior phenom sped to record-breaking victories in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races, beating a pair of longstanding marks set by an eventual Olympian back in 1992.
“For him to be able to beat a record from a swimmer who’s been to the Olympics is pretty special,” Glacier Peak coach Ron Belleza said.
King, a University of Alabama signee who qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, swam the 50 freestyle in a blistering automatic All-American time of 19.81 seconds. That was a whopping 0.91 seconds faster than the rest of the field and 0.21 seconds faster than the previous record set by Newport’s Ugur Taner, who went on to swim for Turkey in the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Later in the meet, King posted another scorching automatic All-American time of 43.24 seconds in the 100 freestyle. He finished an astounding 2.72 seconds ahead of the next-closest swimmer and broke Taner’s 1992 record in the event by 0.49 seconds.
King received 4A swimmer of the meet honors after setting a state-meet record with a total of 330 points from his two individual swims. The point values are based on the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association’s Power Point tables, which are designed to equate the quality of a swim time from event to event.
“Oh man, I don’t even know where to start,” Belleza said of King’s record-setting day. “After prelims, we knew he was in good shape to swim fast. And after warmups, I just told him, ‘I know you said you wanted to have fun and this (meet) is all about fun, but let’s do something special today. Let’s do something special where everyone remembers your 50 free and your 100 free.’
“These records have been around for ages. I just wanted him to have fun and swim as fast as he possibly could and probably set records that will last another 25 years.”
King, ranked by CollegeSwimming.com as the top overall senior recruit in the state and the No. 43 senior recruit in the nation, won state titles in both the 50 and 100 freestyle as a sophomore during his first year of high school swimming.
After taking last prep season off to focus on club swimming, King returned this winter in time to accumulate enough practices to post a district-qualifying time in Glacier Peak’s final regular-season meet.
In addition to his record-breaking individual state titles, King teamed with Zach Cermak, Cody Cruz and Taylor Erickson to anchor the Grizzlies to a sixth-place medal in the 400 freestyle relay.
“It’s fun,” King said of his record-breaking meet. “That’s the one word I can use to describe it. It’s been just a lot of fun. Usually when I go to big meets, it’s a little too serious. But it’s fun to just come out here, be with all my high school friends and just go out here and have some fun and race.”
Relay state record, twins’ 1-2 finish highlight Kamiak’s big day
There was no time to rest for Kamiak’s standout twin brothers.
In a span of about 10 minutes, juniors Vlad and Slava Gilszmer went from another 1-2 state finish in high school swimming’s longest race to helping the Knights earn a record-setting relay victory.
“The chaos of getting from the 500 (freestyle) into the pictures, trying to warm down, back to the ready room, get some jackets on — well, forget the jackets, there (wasn’t any) time for that. Get up there and go,” Erickson described afterward. “And then to win with the state record in that 200 (freestyle relay) was pretty awesome.”
The Gilszmer twins began the crazy sequence by taking the top two spots in the 500 freestyle for the second straight year.
Vlad cruised to his second consecutive state title in the event, posting a winning time of 4:30.91. Slava earned his second straight runner-up finish, touching the wall in 4:36.47. Both bettered their state finals times from last season by more than four seconds.
Shortly after, the Gilszmer twins teamed with Maxwell Fang and Brian Park in the very next event for a record-breaking performance in the 200 freestyle relay.
Fang and Park gave the Knights an early lead and the Gilszmer twins gutted out the latter half of the race, with Vlad out-touching second-place Skyline at the wall by 0.09 seconds.
Kamiak finished with an All-American consideration time of 1:25.53, which broke a 4A state-meet record that had stood since 1991.
“I knew it was pretty much all or nothing,” Vlad said of the narrow finish, “so I swam all out for it.”
Maxwell Fang and the Gilszmer twins also teamed with Ryan Fang to give the Knights a second-place finish and an All-American consideration time in the 400 freestyle relay (3:09.23).
In addition to the Gilszmer twins’ 1-2 finish in the 500 freestyle, Vlad placed third in the 200 freestyle (1:40.96) and Slava took eighth in the event (1:45.51).
Maxwell Fang also earned a pair of individual state medals, placing third in the 100 freestyle (46.45) and fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:41.18). The Kamiak senior finished his prep career with seven individual state medals.
The Knights placed fifth in the 4A team standings for their ninth top-five state finish in the past 13 seasons.
Jackson standout caps career with 1st state title
Prior to Saturday, Justin Limberg had never climbed atop a swim podium as an individual. Not in high school and not in club.
The Jackson senior standout came close last year, but fell just short during a narrow runner-up state finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Limberg broke through the barrier Saturday.
The Johns Hopkins University-bound swimmer claimed the 200 individual medley state crown with an All-American consideration time of 1:50.89.
“Swimming is such an up-and-down sport,” Limberg said. “And in all honesty, I think it’s unforgiving. But it also probably gives you some of the best highs in the world.
“Stepping from the second-place (step) onto the first-place (step) was incredible. It almost felt like I was breaking through a barrier. Like, it felt like the air was thick right there, since I’ve just never been on a first-place podium. … That feeling was incredible.”
Limberg was in second place midway through the race after the butterfly and backstroke legs, but still trailed Newport’s Nathan Lee by 1.47 seconds.
Limberg then surged in front with a speedy breaststroke leg and maintained his advantage with a strong freestyle leg. He touched the wall 0.50 seconds ahead of Mount Vernon’s Luke Pusateri, who was the runner-up.
“The reason I surged so much better than last year is probably because of mentality,” Limberg said. “… It was definitely just going into it having a spark inside and seeing, like, ‘I can do this right now.’”
Limberg also placed third in the 100 breaststroke (55.51) and teamed with Braden Thompson, Alex Georgiev and Jensen Elsemore for a fifth-place finish in the 200 medley relay (1:36.24).
Limberg finished his prep career with five top-four individual state medals.
“For a kid like Justin who works as hard as he does and has had the success that he has, getting that medal around your neck at this meet was something that he really wanted,” Jackson coach Drew Whorley said.
“And I think he was able to approach it differently this year (with) his mental focus. He put in the work and he came up with a great strategy and executed it and swam it with confidence and put himself in a situation where they were gonna have to beat him. And that really paid off.
“I can’t remember the last time that I’ve had that much fun watching a swim,” he added. “I’m just really happy for him.”
Lake Stevens standout claims pair of top-3 medals
Lake Stevens senior Alejandro Flores placed second in the 100 breaststroke with an automatic All-American time of 54.08 seconds.
The Auburn University signee finished 1.32 seconds behind Hazen’s Ethan Dang, who sped to an overall state-meet record. It was Flores’ third top-three state breaststroke state medal in his three seasons of prep swimming.
Flores also took third in the 100 butterfly (50.58) and teamed with Garrett Chesley, Nathan Fleischmann and McRae Collins for a seventh-place finish in the 200 medley relay (1:36.95).
“It’s good to watch a kid work hard and have that hard work pay off,” Lake Stevens coach Brady Dykgraaf said. “He shows up, he cares, he works hard with his team. And to swim a 54.0 (in the breaststroke) is fast. His middle 50 (yards) was the fastest I’ve ever seen him go.”
Other local medalists
Two local divers claimed state medals. Lake Stevens sophomore Jaden Cardona placed fifth (349 points) and Monroe senior Benson Boone took sixth (348.50).
Cermak, a Glacier Peak senior, earned a pair of individual state medals, placing fifth in the 50 freestyle (21.43) and eighth in the 100 butterfly (51.88).
Elsemore, a sophomore from Jackson, took fifth in the 100 freestyle (46.97).
Cascade, Jackson swimmers medal in adaptive races
Cascade senior Henry Nguyen placed third in the adaptive 50 freestyle (27.53) and fourth (35.28) in the adaptive 50 backstroke.
Jackson senior Ian Walsh finished eighth in the adaptive 50 backstroke (50.02).
This story will be updated with video highlights.