Kentlake senior goes from a childhood hating the pool to future on University of the Pacific swim team

Swimmer Erik Fulmer is never satisfied — even when he comes in first.

Swimmer Erik Fulmer is never satisfied — even when he comes in first.

The 17-year-old Kentlake senior hopes to take first in his mid-distance races this year. But whether he actually achieves those goals or not, it’s still not going to be good enough to merely be “good.”

“You can always do better,” he said. “You should never settle for good.”

This personal motto is reflected in his advancement year-by-year. He has qualified for state since he was a freshman.

He finished last year with a sixth place at the state meet in the 200 yard free with a time of 1 minute, 46.47 seconds. He also took seventh in the 500 free with a time of 4:52.05.

Ironically, Fulmer didn’t take his first plunge into swimming due to his own curiosity, but at the zealous encouragement of one of his mother’s friends. On the swim team for the Kent Swim and Tennis Club, Fulmer said he initially did not care for the water at all. While his mother did not force it on him, he said, she felt he should keep his options open.

“I really, really didn’t want to,” he said. “At first, I hated it.”

Whatever was in the water, it started to grow on Fulmer until by the age of 12 he acquired a taste for competing. With a natural talent in mid-distance races, he also placed well during races where there is little room for error.

“I’ve always been a freestyle and fly type of guy,” he said. “They’re really fast paced and they’re tricky races.”

When he joined the Kentlake team as a freshman, he said the environment was somewhat different from club swimming.

“High school was less serious,” he said. “Everyone is really close. It’s like a job. It’s still very competitive.”

He started off his high school career with a state-qualifying time in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke. Swimming year-round, Fulmer also competes for KING Aquatic Club in Federal Way.

He also found a way to control the natural nervousness he experienced right before a race by listening to music by Mozart, which he said calms him down.

As far as setbacks go, Fulmer said he has avoided season-crippling injuries or health problems. While he did well his junior year, he said, it concluded on an extremely heart-breaking note when his coach, Seth Dawson, was killed in a plane crash the day before the state meet.

Going into his races, Fulmer said the tragedy affected the entire team as a whole as well as him individually.

“It was the hardest meet of my life,” he said. “It was on my mind the whole time.”

With new coach Matt Zietzke at the helm, Fulmer has high expectations not only for himself, but for the team.

“To win state…I think that is a very realistic goal.” he said. “The group of guys are getting along, and we’re training well together. I think that’s a big plus. I think the future is looking bright.”

Regardless of how this season ends for Fulmer, his future in the pool is already determined. He signed on to swim at University of the Pacific in California. His older brother, John, is a freshman at Seattle University where he also swims.

“We’ve always been the swimmer boys,” Fulmer said.