When asked about his accomplishments, Casey McEuen doesn’t rattle off a record time or one of his many wins in elite meets.
Instead, the Lebanon High swimming standout talks about his desire to represent “the heart of a champion” outside of the pool, inspiring others and having good character.
“Personal growth as a person has helped me mature as a swimmer,” McEuen, a senior, said when asked about what stands out among his achievements. “Me being able to control my emotions behind the blocks, in the water and learning how to train properly in and out of the pool, whether that’s academics or just as a person in general. That’s probably the biggest thing.”
A three-time individual state champion, McEuen signed last week to compete next year at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He also visited Hawaii and the University of Denver.
“They had everything I was looking for. The team atmosphere was extremely welcoming,” said McEuen, who visited the UNLV campus in early October.
While there, he met with a professor in the film department. He’s also interested in kinesiology and sports sciences.
McEuen has dominated area swimming and at the state level. Collegiate competition will provide a new challenge.
“I’m going to have to step up my game,” he said. “But that’s something I’m willing to pursue. I have other goals later in life for swimming. If I want to achieve those goals, I’m going to have to go Division I and train with people that are faster than me.”
McEuen was 10 when he started swimming competitively with the Lebanon swim club. He practiced twice a week while also going for his first-grade black belt in karate.
A year later he realized he could be a good swimmer and began swimming full time. It was when he entered high school and was comparing himself to the best in the state and region that becoming an NCAA Division I athlete became a goal.
McEuen is an eight-time state placer and has helped the Warriors to two fourth-place state finishes as a team. He won the 100-yard freestyle in 2016 and last year set 5A state meet records in winning the 50 and 100 freestyle races.
Practice for the coming season officially began Monday. As far as goals, McEuen said he simply wants to do the best he can and hopefully win two more individual state titles.
“Kids love to be around him,” Lebanon High coach Gus Arzner said before last week’s signing ceremony at the school. “He easily inspires them. He’s one of a kind, there’s no question about it, and I will miss him.”
Two years ago, McEuen switched clubs from Lebanon to Corvallis. He said he made the move because many of his training partners graduated high school.
“I wasn’t seeing improvement in my times,” McEuen said. “So I knew if I’m going to make it to college … I’m going to have to make a switch, I have to make a jump, otherwise I’m going to plateau.”
Rick Guenther, head coach of the Corvallis Aquatics Team, first met McEuen at a club meet at Osborn Aquatics Center when McEuen was 11. He could see then that the youngster had promise and a “feel for the water.”
This past summer, he had strong performances at the USA Swimming Futures Championships in the Bay Area and then at junior nationals in New York City. He’ll be competing in the winter junior championships in December in Iowa.
Once swimmers reach elite levels, Guenther said, the focus turns to explosiveness and power in the strokes. Guenther says McEuen has developed lean body mass and is getting stronger.
“He’s kind of just coming into his own and beginning the process,” Guenther said. “He’s got a lot more in front of him.”