A lot was asked of Robby Lewis when he first joined the Aberdeen High School boys swim team four years ago.
Lewis, a club swimmer since elementary school, was easily the Bobcats most experienced aquatic athlete despite his freshman status.
“He came in and was asked to step into some very big shoes,” Aberdeen coach Angie Durr said. “That’s a hard role to fill when you’re a freshman and you’re 15 and you have 18 year olds who have only been swimming for three years.”
It was a responsibility, however, that Lewis quickly embraced, and much like it is with everything else swimming related, he excelled at it.
Four years later and he has unquestionably left his mark on the program. Not just in the times he put up in a variety of events throughout the years – he is a rare four-time state participant – but also through his leadership and his willingness to always help out his fellow teammates who are looking to improve.
Lewis’ high school swimming career came to a conclusion at last month’s Class 2A state swim and diving meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
As expected, he was putting up his own fast individual times, while at the same time guiding his young Bobcat teammates.
Lewis competed in four events at the state meet – two individually in the 100 fly and the 200 IM and two as part of Aberdeen’s 200 medley relay and 200 free relay.
“We had four kids who had been on the team more than one year at the start of the season,” Durr said. “We were a very young team and to have someone like Robby, with the level of experience he brings, is huge. The thing I will remember most about Robby during his four years here is how well he handled it all – so maturely. He filled that (leadership) role beautifully all four years. He understood what he needed to do as an underclassman, and now that he’s older, he’s still out there inspiring the boys.”
Lewis, one of just three seniors on the Bobcats’ squad, competed in the 100 fly for a third consecutive year at state.
And for the third straight season, Lewis advanced out of the preliminary round and competed during the second day of the state meet, picking up 15th in the event.
His final time was 56.88 seconds – just missing setting a new personal record for a third time during his senior year.
It was whirlwind finish in the 100 fly for Lewis, who set his previous PR two years ago as a sophomore, stopping the clock in 57.17.
He bettered that mark at districts, posting a time of 56.44 before again improving on it at the state preliminary round with a mark of 56.23.
“He’s been chasing that for a while,” Durr said about Lewis ending the year with a PR. “It’s amazing how it’s all come together the last couple weeks. It’s a huge accomplishment. It’s really been a roller coaster season for Robby. He’s had to overcome some obstacles. Things beyond his control, like getting sick, but he really brought it together these last few weeks. He got two PRs in a row in the 100 fly. It’s his favorite event, his strongest event. So we’re really excited about that.”
It was the second year in a row Lewis finished 15th in the 100 fly. He also registered a 16th-place finish in 2015.
“It’s always better mentally to swim after a PR,” Lewis said. “It’s unreal it’s my last year. I always pictured myself on the Bobcats’ team since I was a little kid. It all just went super fast. It actually went way too fast, but it’s been a lot of fun.”
Lewis also competed in the 200 IM, finishing 24th in preliminaries (2:16.38).
Lewis swam the first leg of Aberdeen’s 200 medley relay, teaming up with junior Sage Bridges-McGraw and sophomores Kai Kawashima and Conner Gates to placed 18th in the event (1:54.04).
The foursome also advanced to state in the 200 free relay and posted a 20th place in the event, finishing in a season-best 1:41.36.
“It’s been great to be in a position to help all of these guys,” Lewis said. “They really want to be good at swimming and it’s been great watching them improve this year. Everyone just got faster as the year went on.”
While Lewis was putting the finishing touches on his high school swimming resume, Kawashima continued to build his by finishing 14th in the diving event.
Kawashima, who has been diving a little more than a year, is now a two-time state participant in the event. Last year he failed to advance past the opening round.
This year he was 11th following the semifinals and posted a final score of 247.55.
“It really is remarkable how much Kai has improved,” Durr said. “He started diving maybe a month before state last year as freshman and a year later he’s competing for a top 10 place in state.”
Kawashima was the Bobcats’ lone district champion this year and was one of only four non-upperclassmen to place among the top 15 at state.