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Two more PIAA state records fall as Cameron wins 50 free, 100 breast
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
Warwick’s Emily Cameron didn’t want to watch the girls 100 freestyle last Thursday.
Her friend, Hershey sophomore Meaghan Raab, was competing in that event, and with the two stars in a close battle for the Most Valuable Swimmer honors at the PIAA State Triple-A Championships at Bucknell University’s Kinney Natatorium, Cameron didn’t want to put added pressure on herself.
Three events later, the Warwick junior was scheduled to compete in her final event, the 100 breaststroke, and she just wanted to swim her own race.
"I purposely went into the locker room and didn’t watch (Meaghan’s) race because I didn’t want to see her time," Cameron laughed. "That way it was kind of a suspense thing until after my race, so I didn’t have any pressure."
As it turned out, Cameron followed up her State gold medal in Wednesday’s 50 free with another in the 100 breast — giving her five total in her illustrious high school career. On top of that, she shattered the PIAA records in both events, touching the wall in the 50 free in 22.75 seconds to break the mark (22.80) set by Spring Grove’s Michele King in 2005, and then finishing the 100 breaststroke in 1:00.54 to wipe out the record (1:01.07) previously held by Wilson’s Kristen Woodring since 1999. She now holds PIAA state records, including the 200 Individual Medley.
"I can’t stop smiling … it’s awesome," said Cameron, who also won the gold in the 100 breaststroke as a freshman in 1:02.31. "I haven’t gone best time in that event in two years. So to go two seconds faster than my best time, I’m speechless."
"She’s just fun to watch," Warwick coach Mark Daum remarked. "She’s got God-given physical talent. There’s a T-shirt I saw up here that is really good (with the words), ‘Talent beats hard work, unless talent doesn’t work.’ (Emily)’s got the talent, she’s got the hard work, and that’s what makes her special. Talent is God-given. Effort is your own. She brings it every time."
Ultimately, Cameron missed taking home her second Most Valuable Swimmer Award by a mere two points. Raab, who claimed gold in the 200 free (1:45.10) and 100 free (49.01), prevailed for that honor.
Nevertheless, Cameron was happy to see her friend take home the hardware.
"That was awesome, the fact that it was that close," said Cameron, who has qualified in the 200 I.M., 400 I.M., 100 breast and 200 breast for the Olympic Trials from June 25 to July 2 in Omaha, Neb. "You know what? We both swam an awesome meet, so I’m happy that (Meaghan) got it. I’m thrilled. I came out of the meet with two best times. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I honestly think all the swimmers here are great considering we made States."
That includes Pine Richland junior Kristen Murslack, who took home the silver medal in the 100 breaststroke in 1:02.84, which was two seconds off the pace behind Cameron.
But Murslack and the rest of the field were in trouble early on, as Cameron emerged with the lead from her opening dive off the starting block and never looked back. Having swam a 29.23-second split in the 50 on her way to a time of 1:01.84 in Friday morning’s prelims, she topped herself in the finals with a 28.63.
"As much as you can say it’s over in a race like that, it was," Daum laughed. "I said to (assistant) Ric (Joline), ‘Stay tuned. We’re going to go.’ It was like her 200 I.M. last year. She took it out and she looked really good out of the gate. It was like, OK, what we thought would maybe be a record was how much of a record."
"I knew I wanted to go out in 28 (seconds)," Cameron said, "because I have a tendency to die a little bit on the last 25. And I knew if I could get out fast that I could probably bring it home considering it’s the last night of finals."
Murslack figured to be her stiffest competition, considering that her seed time of 1:02.68 was just 34-hundredths of a second behind Cameron (1:02.34).
But Cameron’s training with Lancaster Aquatic Club (LAC) coach Casey Coble obviously paid dividends, as she took command and won easily.
"Casey gets all the credit … I’m just glad I didn’t mess her up," Daum said. "She has a great feel of the water. Her mechanics are beautiful and she became reacquainted with that (100 breast) this year. Last year, she didn’t quite have the confidence in it, but this year it’s been coming back and coming back. It was there. It’s like riding a bike — she never lost it. She just maybe lost a little bit of her confidence in it."
Overall, the 100 breaststroke is one of four individual events that she has competed in at States during her career. Along with now being a two-time PIAA champ in the 200 I.M. and 100 breast, Cameron, of course, also has a gold in the 50 free and a bronze in the 100 free.
Looking ahead to 2013, Cameron is already planning to compete in the 200 I.M. to try for a third PIAA gold in that event. She is also hoping to convince her friend Raab to join her in the 200 I.M., which would make for a must-see showdown.
"(If that happens), you have a classic for the ages," Daum smiled. "We’ve said now for three years, ‘What can she do for an encore?’ One more year. Next year is the farewell tour and we’ll see."
Daum describes her as an aircraft carrier because of her array of talents in the water.
"She is one of those rare people," Daum said. "Do you play her at quarterback? Do you play her at tight end? Do you play her at running back? Do you pitch her? Do you catch her? You could put her anywhere. And the variety keeps her motivated."
So does former Warrior star swimmer Dain Bomberger, a 2011 Warwick grad who is now swimming at the U.S. Naval Academy. Bomberger was back in Lititz on break last week, and the two of them had a conversation before Cameron left for States.
"I got a little pep talk from him," Cameron acknowledged. "He gets more nervous for me than I think I get for myself, and I think it’s obviously the same way I get for him. But he just told me to go out there and have fun and just do what I always do and it always works. He’s a great motivator and I’ll always listen to him."
That motivation perhaps helped Cameron in the 50 free on Wednesday. She accomplished her goal to break 23 seconds by going 22.84 in the prelims, and then she dropped more time in the finals while touching the wall in 22.75. In addition to beating silver-medalist Alexandra Rockett of Wilson by 39-hundredths of a second, she also shattered the record of 22.80 seconds formerly held by King.
"I don’t like thinking about (the records) because Casey was always saying, ‘Whenever you try to go for a record, you’re always like one one-hundredth off of it,’" Cameron said. "Everybody was always telling me, ‘You’re so close to that record tonight,’ and I’m just like, ‘I’m just going to go out there and swim my race and if I get the record, it comes with the territory, I guess.’ You just go out there and have fun with it."
Have fun with it is what Cameron did, and the fact that she swam a personal-best time was icing on the cake.
"I’m very happy with the time," she said. "Obviously, if it had been a little faster, I would’ve been just as thrilled. But it was a best time and I’ll take it. But it’s definitely an event that you can’t mess up anything in. You just kinda got to have everything perfect and I think it was a pretty perfect race. I’ll take it. But I think if I would ever do it again that I could go faster."
Warwick sophomore Justin Mitchell was happy to drop more than three seconds from his 500 free time in the prelims, touching the wall in 4:42.41 to grab 16th place and advance to the consolations finals. There, he finished in 4:43.82 while taking 15th place overall.
"(Justin) is faster at this age than (Warwick grads) Matt Nuffort, Scott Pusey and Colin (Schouten), who were phenomenal distance swimmers," Daum said. "He had the swim of his life this morning (and) he (went) up a little bit (in the finals), but the first time he comes here in this environment and this stage, he was just phenomenal. He was a little tired tonight, but this morning was such a big drop and you’re not going to keep dropping like that."
Plus, Mitchell reached his goal of beating at least one competitor in the consolation finals, edging out Peters Township’s Dan Pletz (4:44.53) for 15th place.
"It was a great swim," Daum said. "He’s got to be happy with it. His goal was not to finish last, he saw the kid over in lane one and he didn’t finish last. So place-wise, he got his goal."
The Warwick girls 200 free relay, consisting of Cameron, Gabby Brubaker, Tara Freeman and Morgan Haney, was hoping to bring home another State medal after taking eighth in 2011 in 1:38.00. Unfortunately, they fell a little short of reaching the A-finals after swimming a time of 1:39.01 in the prelims. But they came back in the consi finals and improved to 1:38.15 for 12th place.
"We still had a fantastic race this year," Cameron said. "I think we all had a great split. It was just, there were how many teams faster this year, and I know that next year when we’re missing them and stuff, we’re going to have to grab some people that are pretty quick to keep up with them."
The 200 medley relay, meanwhile, was ninth in 1:48.79, just off of their school record time of 1:48.69 which they swam while grabbing the silver medal at Districts despite Maddie Schouten still not at 100 percent health-wise. Cameron, Freeman and Haney were the others on that relay, which actually finished with the eighth-fastest time after Emmaus disqualified in the finals.
"I think we were all pretty thrilled with our place," Cameron said. "To come from not even making States last year and to come here and get ninth … wow." More CAMERON, page B-6