King's Way student is All-Region swimmer of the year

Calwell shined at state for Camas High swim team

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Kasey Calwell was born in Texas, went to elementary school in Michigan, attended middle school in Ohio, and now calls Southwest Washington home for his high school years.

Fortunately for him, he has always brought swimming with him.

The sport has helped him make new friends. With his club and high school squads, Calwell said he feels like he is part of a family.

Rest of All-Region team

Eric Bugna, sr., Skyview: Placed seventh at 4A state in 100 backstroke, 9th in 100 butterfly.

Jaron Hamlik, jr., Prairie: Placed fourth at 3A state in 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke.

Jim Nguyen, sr., Evergreen: All-4A GSHL first-team pick placed 8th at 4A state in 100 breaststroke.

Alexander Suk, sr., Mountain View: Placed 5th at 3A state in 50 freestyle, 7th in 100 freestyle.

Chris Xue, so., Mountain View: 3A GSHL swimmer of year 7th in 50 free, 9th in 100 free at state.

Jake Yraceburu, sr., Camas: Placed seventh at 4A state in 100 breaststroke.

He and his extended family celebrated last month when Calwell won four medals at the Class 4A state swimming championships.

Calwell, a sophomore at King's Way Christian who lives in Camas and competes with the Papermakers for high school, finished fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, plus helped two relay teams to the podium.

"It was an incredible day for me and the entire team," Calwell said. "I was able to set personal bests in my events, and our relays got personal bests."

With his performance, Calwell is The Columbian's All-Region boys swimmer of the year.

Winter can be a mental drag for the best swimmers. One must love the sport to endure the schedule.

On most days, Calwell awoke at 5 a.m. and did not get home until 7 p.m. He had a morning practice with the high school team, then went to King's Way. After school, it was off to another pool, for practice with the club team.

Sounds tough, but the family atmosphere makes it easier for Calwell.

"When we first came out here … the club team took me in. They loved me from the very start," Calwell said. "Everybody else just embraced me. I've met so many friends, so fast. It's a total family with everybody."

His family at home pushes him, too. Sandy and Ken moved with their son to Vancouver after Ken was named the CEO of Papa Murphy's.

Ken was a high school swimmer as well. This was the year that Kasey topped all of his dad's best times.

"That was kind of fun. I got bragging rights within the family," Kasey said. "He's a little bummed, somewhere on the inside, but now my dad is pushing me to place even higher."

KASEY CALWELL, Camas boys swimming

Season highlights

  • Set personal bests in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100 breaststroke at the Class 4A state championships, finishing fourth in both events.
  • Helped Camas relay teams to medals in the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle.
  • Camas won the district team championship in its first season as a Class 4A program.

More about Kasey

  • Lives in Camas but attends King’s Way Christian. His school does not offer swimming, so he is eligible to compete for the public school where he lives. “King’s Way is at the center of it all,” he said. “They keep me rock solid in my beliefs.”
  • Favorite movie: “The Passion of the Christ.” “It brings to life the suffering and the love Jesus showed to us on the cross.”
  • Favorite book: “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen. It’s a story of a teen who survives a plane crash and then days in the wilderness.

Next year and beyond

“Continue to train and push myself even harder,” Calwell said. He said he has a shot at winning a state championship. “That would be incredible.”

“When you have great success and great times, it means all the hours and practice, it’s all worth it.”

Kasey Calwell discussing the rewards for his long days of practice and school.