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Swimming: Former Bear awaits trials
OPPORTUNITIES WON’T SLIP
PAST ‘PACK’S CAMPER
PAST ‘PACK’S CAMPER
By ADAM HIMMELSBACH
When Braden Holloway was hired to coach the North Carolina State swim team last June, he immediately started scouring the roster and discovering the team’s strengths.
But he later realized one of the Wolfpack’s most talented swimmers had not even arrived on campus yet.
U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS
WHEN: June 25–July 2
WHERE: CenturyLink Center, Omaha, Neb.
Michael Camper had just graduated from Riverbend High School, and his future was both bright and unknown.
Soon after practices began late that summer, however, Camper’s potential became clear to Holloway.
“After about a month of trying to link the tradition of the past to the concept of embracing the future, he was kind of the link between the two that I found,” Holloway said of Camper. “It was just great.”
And so, enamored with Camper’s work ethic, enthusiasm and skill, Holloway made the unusual move of naming the freshman a team captain.
“Every day he was just so noticeable,” Holloway said. “He stood out every single day with things he said to teammates, things he said to coaches, and how he swam. The team fed off that.”
Next week, Camper will take the next step in his rapid evolution, as he competes in the 200 backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials.
He is one of six Fredericksburg-area swimmers who will take part in the event, which will be held in Omaha, Neb.
“Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime chance to race and compete with the top athletes in the U.S.,” Camper said. “but I think it’s going to help me a lot going into next season.”
Camper had a standout freshman season for North Carolina State, scoring at the ACC championships in the 1,650 freestyle, the 400 IM and the 200 backstroke.
“Coming in as a freshman can be daunting for a lot of athletes going into college,” Holloway said. “Michael adapted to expectations very well.”
Camper celebrated his performance the only way he knew how—by swimming some more.
One day after the ACC meet, he competed at the Hokie Invitational with the goal of qualifying for Olympic trials.
“It was pretty unusual,” Camper said. “But since it was an Olympic trial year, people were trying to make their cuts, and it made sense for our team because we were on taper and we were rested.”
Five Wolfpack swimmers made trial cuts that day, including Camper, who swam the 200 backstroke in 2 minutes, 4.3 seconds.
Camper has spent much of the spring preparing for trials, including more double-sessions than he would like to count.
He is hoping to finish in less than two minutes next week, which could get him past the first round of qualifying swims.
Camper said his technique has developed over the past year, but his greatest improvement has been becoming more mentally strong.
That mettle, of course, will be tested at trials.
“I can’t let the level of talent that’s there at such a high level event get to me,” Camper said. “The whole experience is going to help me a lot.”
Adam Himmelsbach: 540/374-5442