4A swimming: Kentlake swimmer advances despite tragic death of coach

Here is the Seattle Times story on Kentlake swimmer, who advanced to Saturday’s finals at the 4A state swim meet just days after his coach, former Hudson’s Bay standout Seth Dawson, died in a plane crash

By Doug Drowley

Special to The Seattle Times

FEDERAL WAY — Emotions were running strong. Excitement over an ultra-close team race at the Class 4A boys state championships had swimmers talking.

But for one, Friday’s preliminaries at the King County Aquatic Center were more poignant.

Erik Fulmer was the only Kentlake Falcon swimming in the afternoon heats. The junior didn’t disappoint, advancing to Saturday’s championship finals in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

“I had a lot of motivation,” Fulmer said, “from coach passing away.”

Fulmer’s high school coach, 31-year-old Seth Dawson, was one of three people killed when a single-engine Cessna out on a late-night flight crashed early Wednesday near North Bend. Piloting that plane was Decatur High coach Rob Hill.

“It’s been a tough week for everybody,” Fulmer said. “It affected me most, I think, because I am the one that was going to state. It’s really sad.”

When he heard about the tragedy, Fulmer said he didn’t want to compete at the state meet. But as the week progressed, he had a change of heart as the sole representative from his 15-person team.

“He’d want me to swim,” Fulmer said of his coach.

Fulmer dropped more than six seconds off his state-seeding time in the 500 free and qualified seventh in 4 minutes, 47.23 seconds. He also swam the day’s fifth-best time in the 200 free, improving by more than a full second.

“I knew I could do it,” Fulmer said. “He (Dawson) knew I could do it. It’s just a matter of executing.”

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