PROSPERITY — Mid-Carolina High School junior Bennett “Ben” Hawkins recently became the South Carolina High School League state champion for the 100 yard breaststroke.
Bennett, along with the MCHS swim team, competed at the Blatt Natatorium at The University of South Carolina on Oct. 14. Bennett also competed in the 200 yard freestyle, another event Hawkins says he excels in.
“To help prep for the competition we (the team) went down on our yardage, to rest the week before, so we would be ready for the meet, but before we were doing 30 to 35,000 yards a week,” he said.
Before the 16-year-old Hawkins competed in the 100 breaststroke he said he prepared himself by listening to music and inhaling peppermint oil to clear his sinuses and “get him pumped.”
He also gave his mom, who is his high school swim coach, a hug and wrote Philippians 4:13 (I can do all this through Him who gives me strength) on his hand.
“I was just thinking bless God before I went,” Hawkins said.
The inspiration to write the bible verse on his hand came from Alan Gallman, a Prosperity council-member.
“He is very strong in helping our youth through their faith and he gave me a couple of bible verses to remember when I swim. I just wrote that down on my hand and thought about him and God,” Hawkins said.
When Hawkins hit the water he swam against approximately 30 competitors and he won by about a second and a half. He said that is comparable to about half a body length.
“I came in ranked third,” he said. “I knew I had a shot and I knew I was gonna really push myself to get to that number one spot.”
Hawkins has been swimming competitively for the last eight years, for both his high school team and the Columbia YMCA, which he says helps a lot with high school swimming. He said he enjoys swimming because “it gives you time to think while you are doing it, and it is self rewarding and challenging.”
Now that he is a state champion, Hawkins he said he is going to work harder and come back and win it again next year, which will give him more motivation and satisfaction.
“Next year my goal is to win that event again and try and win the 200 yard freestyle, that is my other best event,” Hawkins said.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.