Twice in top 10: JHS swim coach places 8th, 10th at U.S.M.S Spring NationalsBen Smith wasn’t expecting to stick out in the 50-meter backstroke the way he did at the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals in late April. The Jamestown High School swimming and diving coach was pleasantly surprised to find out he finished in eighth place in the event, which ran from April 27-29 in Greensboro, N.C.
By: By Chris Aarhus, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Ben Smith wasn’t expecting to stick out in the 50-meter backstroke the way he did at the U.S. Masters Swimming Spring Nationals in late April.
The Jamestown High School swimming and diving coach was pleasantly surprised to find out he finished in eighth place in the event, which ran from April 27-29 in Greensboro, N.C.
“For all of my races, I felt really well,” said Smith, who participated in the 25-to-29-year-old age group. “I just had to get a feel for the water. Mainly my freestyles and my butterfly felt strong in particular, but it ended up being my backstroke that got me a higher place.”
Spring Nationals is for any swimmer or diver over the age of 18, and to earn a spot, an athlete must meet a qualifying time.
“The people that go usually swam in college or are past Olympians,” Smith said. “It’s for people that still like to compete in the sport of swimming.”
It was the second national event Smith has participated in, and it featured more than 1,800 people from all over the country.
“Just the whole experience,” Smith said. “It’s good for me to get in the pool and remember what it feels like to be a swimmer. I think that helps me be a coach.”
In the 50 backstroke, he competed against Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones, a previous American and world record holder in the event. Smith’s time of 28.11 seconds was better than his qualifying time of 29.03. He also finished 10th in the 100 backstroke with a 59.56, also better than his seed time (1:00.90).
“I was very pleased with my times,” said Smith, who competed in six events total. “They were close to my college times. I thought I did really well there.”
Smith, who is in his first year as head coach at JHS and fourth with the program, was the only North Dakotan to compete in the event.
“Being the only North Dakota person to go, it’s kind of hard to train by yourself,” Smith said. “It was good to meet people from all across the country that share a passion for the sport, that compete at a higher level.”
Smith said he intends on competing at Summer Nationals, which is being held in conjunction with the Olympic trials at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb., in late June. Summer Nationals is slated for July 5-8.
Sun sports writer Chris Aarhus can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org