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Saturday, December 2, 2023
Dec. 2, 2023

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4A boys swimming: Sam Empey wins two state titles, Union relay takes a third

Titans place sixth in team standings

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
6 Photos
Sam Empey of Union swims to victory in the 100 butterfly at the 4A boys swimming state meet in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023.
Sam Empey of Union swims to victory in the 100 butterfly at the 4A boys swimming state meet in Federal Way on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

FEDERAL WAY — Sam Empey of Union was pretty fast on Saturday.

But the junior wanted to go faster.

“Coming into it, I wasn’t fully rested so I think the times weren’t what I really wanted,” Empey said. “But the most important thing is just getting on top of that podium. So I think over all it was a really good day.”

Empey earned state titles in the 200-yard freestyle, 100 butterfly and as part of Union’s 200 free relay, leading the Titans to a sixth-place team finish at the 4A state boys swimming meet.

Empey cut almost five seconds off his preliminary time in the 200 free and won by more than five seconds in 1 minute, 39.43 seconds.

The junior had his eye on the meet record of 1:37.17 set by Olympian Nathan Adrian in 2006.

“I was there until the last 50,” Empey said. “And then I ran out of juice.”

Camas’ Nathan Kim took third in the 200 free (1:44.90) and Union’s Owen Robertson was fifth (1:46.45).

Empey followed his 200 free relay with another win in the 100 fly (49.60 seconds).

Union’s Alexander Wahlman moved up from the seventh seed to place fourth in the 100 free (47.37). Then he anchored Union to a come-from-behind win in the 200 free relay. The relay’s winning time was 1:25.93.

Sam Empey, likely fatigued from his two earlier wins, got off to a slow start. But his teammates Steven Empey, Robertson and Wahlman picked him up.

“Going into the last leg, we were right there with Curtis,” Wahlman said. “We both left at the same time. I saw him at the wall. Again, I just had to nail down on that last 25 and pass him up for the win.”

The quartet was originally slated to swim the 200 medley relay, but to give Sam Empey and other swimmers the chance to swim individual events fresh, the team was moved to the 200 free relay.

“We were planning on doing the medley relay,” Robertson said. “So when we switched to the 200 free, we said we got to win this.”

The Titans closed the day with a third-place finish in the 400 relay.

“I think as team, maybe we didn’t have the best individual success, but when we came together, we were hungry,” Sam Empey said. “I’d say for a team our size, we did pretty well.”

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