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Redmond's Klassen dives to first at state
As Eric Klassen stood on the board prior to the final dive of his high school career, he waited for a few moments before springing into action.
A highlight reel of sorts spun through his mind as the water in front of him awaited his arrival during last Saturday’s 4A state finals at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
It wasn’t an emotional moment, “It was definitely more of a reflection, remembering all four years as they all came flooding back,” the Redmond High senior said.
After Klassen completed his dive, he emerged from the pool as a state champion with a score of 468.75, a 78-point lead over Bastian Weyn of Gig Harbor. Eric is the second Klassen to win the state 1-meter diving competition as he followed in the footsteps of his brother, Max, who won the title in 2009. Another Klassen, Phillip, took third twice at state.
“This year, I really think (the key) was all the time I spent getting help from my coach and my brothers. I worked hard and it paid off. I was happy that I’d done my best and finally reached the top,” said Eric, who placed second last season.
Both Max and Phillip were at state last Saturday to witness the “Klassen Dynasty,” as diving coach Skip Hulet calls it, end its Mustang reign with a victory.
Hulet said that Eric’s takeoffs from the board were solid and everything went according to plan from there. Eric and his 15 finals participants tackled a total of 11 dives during the two-day state competition.
“He hit every one of his dives well and he really rose to the occasion,” said Hulet, adding that Eric was a model of maturity and confidence this season. “He knows when he’s got something in his grasp. He’s calm and poised and doesn’t let the butterflies get in the way.”
Eric’s state score is a school record and is eighth all time at the class 4A Washington state level, Hulet said.
Dad Matt Klassen said Eric’s personal goals at state were to beat brother Max’s first-place score (452.90) and to top last year’s best score — 463.50 — provided by Skyline High’s Max Levy. Done and done.
“It’s a very difficult sport to be very consistent in,” Matt said, noting that Eric is as steady as they come.
Eric, who has been diving for the last nine years, said that getting mentally focused before each meet is what ultimately took him to the top of the podium this season.
“That’s good to apply to anything, especially schoolwork. One thing at a time — get it done,” Eric said.
In swimming, Klassen competed in the 200-yard medley relay, 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay along with Xavier Graham (all three), Samuel Jonsson (all three), Ryan Harper, Ben Choe and Jack Markling. Graham also swam in the 100-yard breaststroke and finished 10th in 1 minute,.37 seconds.
The 200 and 400 free relays both took 15th place with marks of 1:32.99 and 3:26.79, respectively. The 200 MR didn’t qualify for the second day of competition.
During Friday’s prelims, Matt said there was some drama among the Klassens when Eric had two more dives to go following his anchor lap in the 400 free relay.
“We thought, ‘Was that really worth it to swim that relay?’” Matt said.
Eric took a 15-minute break, changed his suit, stretched and was set to dive.
“He did two of his best dives after that,” Matt added. “We were really happy with that.”
Photo: Courtesy of Sini Fernandez