Youm powers Gators to state trophy

Joon Youm says he doesn’t believe he has a home-pool advantage.

But he sure swims like he does.

Youm, a Decatur junior who practices every day at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, won two individual events and helped his 200-yard medley relay team to a championship at the Class 4A State Swimming and Diving Championships Saturday at the center.

Youm’s scores helped Decatur to take home the fourth-place trophy in the team competition — the first piece of state hardware for Decatur swimmers.

Decatur scored 140 points. Puyallup was first with 186 points, Garfield was second with 146.5 and Inglemoor was third with 141 points. Jefferson finished sixth as a team with 138 points.

“They’re phenomenal,” said Decatur coach Heather Kreier. “I’ve never seen a team step up like they did today. Every kid came up and did it.”

Youm was also named the Class 4A Swimmer of the Year for his accomplishments — his second such award in as many years. Last season was Swimmer of the Year for his two-title performance.

“It was pretty exciting,” Youm said. “It’s not as good as last year, but better than prelim. In the prelims I felt nervous. There was more pressure because I won it last year, and if I lose it would be weird. My coach told me to just relax and swim your race. I was swimming someone else’s race, looking at the other kids. In the finals, I was more relaxed, didn’t look all around the pool.”

Youm finished the 100 breaststroke in 57.43 seconds and won the 200 individual medley in 1:53.37 — almost four seconds faster than his preliminary time.

In the breaststroke, Decatur teammate Tyson Sullivan was right behind Youm for second place in 58.97. Sullivan was the fifth seed coming into the state meet, but cut 2.5 seconds off his seed time in the finals. Jefferson’s Jason Hesla took 10th in the event in 1:01.21.

“I’m more pleased than I thought I could be,” Sullivan said. “We were really looking to go 1-2 in the breast. I was like, ‘Let’s do this.’ I was really thinking taking third would be great and fourth would be good. This is crazy.”

Youm and Sullivan also teamed up with Kevin Sweeney and Adam Reinick to take first in the 200 medley relay finals with an All-American consideration time of 1:38.88

“It feels awesome right now,” Reinick said. “The medley relay was our big thing. It’s what we were all pumped up about.”

The team shaved almost a second off their preliminary time.

“At finals, everybody came out with their best and got pumped up,” Youm said. “With the relays, everybody did their best.”

“It feels really good,” said Sweeney, who attends Bellarmine Prep but swims for Decatur. “We were pumped up, wearing our orange jumpsuits, and the song they played was ‘Move out the way.’ It fit us perfect.”

Jefferson’s medley relay team of Andrew Jung, Hesla, Trevor Cray and Matt Diotte finished second in 1:40.33.

In the 200-yard individual medley, Hesla was seventh and Jung was eighth in the finals.

Federal Way junior Greg Hiett was 13th.

In the 50 freestyle, Cray, a senior, finished fourth in 22.35.

Cray also was ninth in the 100 freestyle in 49.46.

Jung was fifth in the 100 backstroke in 53.67.

Jefferson’s Danny Smith, a ninth-grader, finished 15th in the 200-yard freestyle finals in 1:50.88. Smith also was 15th in the 500 freestyle in 4:59.47.

“We’re very happy,” Hesla said. “We swam very good this weekend. We set a whole bunch of team records. It’s been a great year.

“At the beginning of the year, everyone thought TJ would be horrible. But we’ve never been this good. It feels really good.”

Cray set a school record in the 50 freestyle, Hesla set a school record in the 200 individual medley, Jung set a school record in the backstroke, and the 200 medley relay team set a school record.

“They’re all swimming well,” said David Conner, Jefferson’s assistant coach. “They got fired up for today. When we saw the psych sheet, we were seeded top five. We thought we could hold on or move up a few spots. Everyone is feeling good and swam with a lot of confidence.”

Jefferson’s 200 freestyle relay team of Jung, Diotte, Hesla and Cray finished third in 1:29.94. Decatur’s team of Sullivan, Sweeney, Reinick and Youm was fourth in 1:30.09. Decatur’s team was seeded eighth after the preliminaries, but cut two seconds off its time in the finals.

Decatur’s fourth-place overall finish in the team competition is even more remarkable considering the Gators had a 2-5 regular season record.

“We’ve come together really close as a team this year,” Sullivan said. “We were determined because we knew we had a chance. Everything clicked and look what we accomplished. We all fed off each other. On a scale of one to 10 of satisfaction, this is a 15.”

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