Nothing compares to the last few moments before a race begins for a high-school swimmer.
Just ask Springville star Cameron Green.
“Getting up on the blocks to compete, it’s this surge of adrenaline,” Green said Monday. “You look around at the people around you. At this point, I’ve been in swimming long enough to know most of the people at the top levels. I look around and I see my friends next to me, the people I have been training with, and you feel that fire of ‘I’m not going to let this guy beat me.’”
When the start signal goes off, Green said everything changes.
“You go out and after you dive in, everything kind of goes blank,” he said. “The best races I have ever swam, I couldn’t even tell you I remember them most of the way through. You hit that zone of let’s go.”
Green has been going at an extremely high level for the Red Devils this season. According to UTSwimCoach.com, Green has the top individual time in Class 5A this season in five of the eight events (200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke).
Green’s coach at Springville, Travis Pope, said Green is such an impressive swimmer that those types of performances are now almost routine.
“When I think of Cameron, I’ve come to expect the unexpected,” Pope said. “He works hard for everything he gets. We have come to expect greatness. We’re not surprised when he puts up the No. 1 time in state. It’s not if he is going to do it but how fast he will go.”
After setting a new state record in the 100 backstroke in the 5A state meet last year as a sophomore, Green had set a pretty high bar for himself.
“I did come in with pretty high expectation and I still have those going into state,” Green said. “I’ve been pushing myself hard in training. I’ve been staying on top of everything, trying to get ready. Overall, I feel like this season has gone very well, actually. I’ve been able to get very close to some of my best times throughout the middle of the season, which doesn’t tend to happen very often. As we roll up into state, I’m feeling pretty ready.”
But Green is more than just an incredible athlete, according to Pope. He said the young man is still grounded and always wanting what is best for the team.
“One of my favorite memories was his freshman year,” Pope said. “He came to me at a meet and said we need to change him out of a relay because he was not feeling good. He said he didn’t think he could give what we needed. I talked to him for a while and said that I thought he would be the best option. He was anchoring the 400 freestyle relay and he went six seconds faster than we thought the next swimmer would’ve been able to do.”
Pope explained that Green has developed his own self-assurance with bravado or cockiness.
“Those are the moments when he wakes up to the success he has had,” Pope said. “I’ve seen confidence come in. He’s not going to brag about himself and he’s always encouraging. He trusts the other guys but if it comes down to it, he’s going to go win that race.”
Green said he started swimming six or seven years ago after trying a variety of other sports.
“Before swimming, I tried every other sport under the sun,” Green said. “I tried baseball, basketball, football, hockey, even some martial arts. I didn’t really enjoy any of them. But my mom was a swimmer in college, so I told her I wanted to try swimming for a season. I started swimming with the Springville Seals recreation team and just kept going from there.”
He said his family deserves a lot of credit for his growth as a swimmer, especially his mom Kim and his dad Cory Green (who coaches the girls basketball team at Maple Mountain High School).
“My family has always been there to support me, driving me to morning practices before I could drive, getting ready for big meets,” Cameron Green said. “My mom specifically has played a huge role. Since she was a swimmer in college, she knows a lot more about the sport and the community. She’s also a physical therapist, which definitely helps.”
He now trains 10-to-12 hours per week. He said the payoff is seeing himself improve, feel better in the water, but he also loves being part of the swimming community.
“It’s definitely like a family,” he said. “On your own team, you have that camaraderie where people are supporting each other and cheering for each other. If you need help with something, someone is there to help you.”
He said he thrives on the energy of the big meets.
“The best part of this year has been being around the team and taking the energy from everyone into my races,” Green said. “At region, where there were a lot of people cheering and supporting. You can feel that when you get on the blocks and get ready to swim.”
Next up is the biggest in-state event as the 5A state meet will take place at BYU on Feb. 8-9. After that, Green will turn his attention to his senior year, including looking at where he will swim collegiately.
“Colleges will watch your film and will want to see how you swim a little, but what matters most is the times you are going,” Green said. “Schools that I have been talking to include Stanford — which at the current moment is kind of at the top of my list — followed by Harvard, Arizona State, Texas at Austin as well as a couple of others.”
Green said the best advice he could give to any swimmer is to train hard and trust that training.
“If you train and work to get to that level, your physical body is going to be at that level,” Green said. “You just have to get to the mental level of not psyching yourself out and being ready to race.”