The Maui News 2018-19 MIL Swimming & Diving All-Stars

Na Alii’s Eyre, DeCambra awarded top MIL honors

King Kekaulike High School’s Austin DeCambra finished third in the 100-yard breaststroke and seventh in the 200 individual medley at the state championship meet last month. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

The 2018-19 Maui Interscholastic League swimming season won’t be forgotten any time soon by Austin DeCambra and Ana Eyre.

The pair from King Kekaulike High School are The Maui News MIL boys and girls swimmers of the year, respectively.

Eyre earned the girls award in her junior season when she finished second in the state in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyles. Eyre won the 50 and finished second in the 100 as a sophomore at the state meet.

She immediately thought of former winners of the award, including Maui Prep alum Kysha Altura, who is currently a freshman swimmer at Fordham University, and last season’s winner, Kaimilani Matsumoto, a senior at Baldwin. Both are former state champions.

“This is such an honor, hearing that I got this was honestly a dream come true,” Eyre said. “I saw Kaimi and Kysha get this award. Just thinking that I’m being compared to Kysha and Kaimi is just so special to me.”

Na Alii teammate Ana Eyre had a pair of second-place finishes in the 50 and 100 freestyles at states. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo

Eyre is joined on the girls first team by Baldwin’s Matsumoto and Kylie Carter; Maui High’s Jordynn Brown; Seabury Hall’s Jasmine O’Brien and Kamille Pellettieri; Lahainaluna’s Lexi Anderson; and Maui Prep’s Paloma Banto.

“The competition on Maui and the girls on Maui, there’s no better place in the world to compete than with them,” she said. “Everyone is so friendly to each other, but we still put everything into the pool. When we go to state competitions or sectional competitions on the Mainland, it’s such a special bond and I’m really grateful for that.”

DeCambra is a senior who finished third in the 100 breaststroke and seventh in the 200 individual medley at the state meet.

“It’s very exciting,” DeCambra said. “I worked really hard for it, really hard. It was very hard to get to where I am today. When I hear that, I just get excited about it. … It makes me happy.”

DeCambra said that he is completely content as he looks back at his high school career in the rearview mirror.

2018-19 MIL Swimming and Diving All-Stars

“I feel like I gave it my all,” he said. “Even though I didn’t win states or come in first place, I still made my junior national times at MIL champs and that was a personal goal I set for myself. I also set my goal to make a state qualifying time in every event that MILs had to offer, which I did and that was amazing.

“That’s the way I look at it — I set my goals and I completed those goals and that’s all I can ask for.”

DeCambra is joined on the boys first team by Maui High’s Aaren Orquia and Patrick Garduque; Lahainaluna’s Jaden Yip; Maui Prep’s Slater Fleck; Baldwin’s Vincent McNabb and Benton Turner; Kamehameha Maui’s Kobe Lilio; and St. Anthony’s Sean Cerizo.

DeCambra plans on swimming in college.

“It’s looking like Midwest or East Coast, still deciding on a school yet,” he said.

Just missing the top step on the medal podium will drive Eyre into her senior season, she said.

“I mean, second place is a great honor and it’s a really special thing to get, to be that highly ranked, but my times were really disappointing to me for how much training I had been doing,” she said.

She shook off the disappointment quickly, turning it into motivation. She will swim at the West Sectional meet in Federal Way, Wash., later this month.

“I was really upset with it for a few days, and I didn’t really know how to deal with it,” she said. “And then I just said, ‘OK, I’m an athlete and athletes work hard and they have bad races sometimes, they have bad meets, and that’s OK.’ That just means that I’m an athlete.”

She learned to love the sport on a family trip to Spain before her freshman year at King Kekaulike. Returning to Maui only solidified things.

“I came back to Maui — I had never made a state time prior to this and I came back to Maui and I just started making state times,” she said. “It completely surprised me, but at the same time I was so thrilled to be part of this great sport. Seeing that in Spain and then being able to bring it back to Maui, and take the resources that I have here — from the beautiful pools to the coaching to the teammates — it was just such a cool experience. It’s just built since then, it’s just this great part of my life.”

Her lifetime best in the 50 is 23.63, a time she swam at the MIL championships this year, and in the 100 her best is 52.03, a time she swam at an MIL meet in 2018.

King Kekaulike coach Malcolm Cooper is the MIL coach of the year. He also coaches the Maui Dolphins, Eyre’s club and DeCambra’s former club.

“It was amazing, I started out swimming for Maui Dolphins — he taught me how to swim,” DeCambra said. “I was with him for a few years and I switched … and then it was cool because life switched back full circle, 360, and I ended up with Malcolm as my high school coach. Finished off my senior year with him as my high school coach, which was the coolest thing I could have ever had.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com

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