Abaldo rides tidal wave of pool successYoung Windjammer wins state titles, sets water sport records
Rockport — Camden Hills Regional High School sophomore Julian Abaldo has had a successful few recent weeks in the pool, for the Windjammers, in addition to the Penobscot Bay YMCA Sailfish.
At the state Class B high school championships Feb. 17 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Abaldo captured the state 200 freestyle (1:47.41) and 500 freestyle (4:56.75) titles as he helped the Windjammer boys squad surge to a fourth-place finish.
Weeks later at the Maine State YMCA Championships Feb. 28-March 2 in Orono, Abaldo again had a stellar meet as he set state records in the 100 freestyle (48.90 seconds) and 200 freestyle (1:46.37), which helped the Sailfish finish third overall.
Abaldo said winning the state Class B title “was a really big deal.”
“I was super into it at the meet,” he said. “It just felt amazing when I won those events. It was great.”
He also is part of championship relays teams
Camden Hills swim coach Sara Cole said she is “so incredibly proud of Julian” and the work he does both for the Windjammers and the Sailfish.
“Julian paces himself beautiful in the challenging 200 and knows exactly what he wants to do in the 500,” she said. “Julian is also an integral member of the relay team and puts his all into each event. In addition to being a strong individual swimmer, he is dedicated to the team as seen through his enthusiasm during the relays and the camaraderie on deck. His energy and enthusiasm are contagious.”
Cole said Abaldo has seen huge time drops from last season and “is goal-oriented and puts his all into everything he does.”
While the state titles were, of course, a dream come true for the sophomore, he said his record-breaking swims at the YMCA state championships were more memorable.
“Getting the state records I was really, really happy with,” he said. “To me, records last longer than wins. When you get a win nobody will really remember, 'Oh, back in however many years ago, [this guy] won first place.' But if your record is still up there, they are going to see that name.”
Abaldo attended Oceanside High School last year and swam with the Windjammers as an independent, but transferred to Camden Hills Regional High School as a sophomore.
Medomak Valley also has independent swimmers who practice and attend meets with Camden Hills.
Abaldo said the motives for transferring were “very much for academics” as many of the colleges he is interested in applying to require two years of Latin, a course Oceanside does not offer. He also wanted to participate in The Horizons Gifted and Talented programs at CHRHS.
Abaldo does honors courses and skipped a grade in elementary school. He has lofty academic aspirations, including attending Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., which would be his “reach” school, or perhaps the University of Southern California as he is in a position to focus more on swimming. His mother, Sherry, attended USC.
“Since I was with the swim team before I moved to Camden [Hills] we heard a lot of stuff from other kids' parents [and] about the academics from fellow swimmers,” he said. “We got the impression it was better in academics than Oceanside and that it had a better reputation for helping me get into bigger colleges.”
Athletically, swimming for Camden Hills was a bonus. Though he did not need to adjust much in his transition from Mariner blue to Windjammer red in the pool.
“Everyone's friends there,” he said. “It doesn't really matter. You're just changing suits. You swim together, you do everything together. Even at the state meet you're sitting at the same place [and] everyone's talking. It was no different really except I got to be on relays, which was fun.”
“His Oceanside teammates miss him and his sister Catherine, so it is great that Camden [Hills], Oceanside and Medomak [Valley] practice and swim together,” said Cole. “Having Julian on Camden [Hills] added another layer of depth as well as solidified our relay after graduation losses last year.”
Abaldo was born in Maine, but his father's job in architectural engineering brought the family out to California when he “was five or six” for a few years. During that time, Abaldo and his sister Catherine took up water polo. They returned to Maine when he was 11.
“We wanted to get back into the water so we saw, 'Oh there's a water polo opening at the Y,'” he said. “Well, it turns out we were the only people who signed up for it.
“Then they said, 'Oh well, we have a swim team.' So we decided to try that.”
Abaldo has done football, wrestling and soccer in the past, but does only swimming and outdoor track for Camden Hills.
Though Abaldo cautioned anyone expecting rave reviews for outdoor track “to not expect anything.”
“Track is just my season where I take it easy,” he said. “I don't worry about anything. I'm not competitive at all in that world. Horrible times.”
As opposed to swimming, where Abaldo's times are among the best — top to bottom.
“Swimming is about your own best times, the state's best times and the different best times there are,” he said. “You're wanting to win, obviously, but also you don't mind trying to help other kids. You give them technique pointers if you can. Everyone is encouraging.”
Name: Julian Abaldo.
Grade: Sophomore at Camden Hills Regional High School.
Parents: Sherry and Mario Abaldo.
Favorite athlete: Michael Phelps.
Favorite personal moment in sports: Setting the 200 and 100 freestyle state record at the YMCA state championships.
Favorite course in school: Pre-calculus.
TV show you never miss: The Big Bang Theory.
Favorite phone/computer app: Candy Crush.
What do you listen to you on your iPod before competing: Eminem.
Favorite movie: Gladiator.
Food you pig out on: Chocolate.
Favorite book: "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Vehicle you wish you were driving: Lamborghini Veneno.
Person you most want to meet (dead or alive): Leonardo da Vinci.
Most influential people in your life: My parents, coaches and close friends.
Future plans: Swimming in college and a career in either economics or law.