Sometimes revenge is the best motivation, Ben Stevenson discovered in the Northeast Classic.
The senior freestyler of the St. Charles swim and dive team got some payback against Dublin Jerome’s DJ Lloyd in the prestigious competition on January 15 at Branin Natatorium in Canton.
A week earlier, in a doubles match at St. Charles, Lloyd defeated the Sunbury-area resident in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 21.7 seconds, just ahead of Stevenson’s 21.77. Stevenson, however, came out on top in Canton, winning the final in 21.23, while Lloyd swam 21.35.
Stevenson was also first in the preliminary race, going from 21.07 to Lloyd’s 21.35.
“DJ beat me in a double encounter the week before, so I came in with revenge in mind,” Stevenson said. “I almost swam my best time in the preliminaries. The competitive part of that helped me do well there.”
Stevenson’s best effort in the 50 free was 21.0. The program record of 20.41 was set by Nick Ward in 2016.
Stevenson’s top 100 free time was 46.32, behind the 44.77 senior Spencer Aurnou-Rhees set last season.
“Ben is a big boy and at 6 (-foot)-3 his height helps with sprints,” said coach Kyle Goodrich. “I think he’s more explosive from the moment he shows up and starts swimming. He’s refined his technique and he’s a big strong guy who likes to sprint.”
Stevenson participated in the Division I State Meet at Branin Natatorium last season, finishing ninth in the 100 free (46.15) and eleventh in the 50 free (21.1). He was also a member of the third place 400 free relay (3:04.33) and the sixth place 200 free relay (1:24.45).
“Ben is a great relay swimmer and his relay splits are very strong,” Goodrich said. “He’s someone who is very stable and I know what I’m going to get from him. Every time I put him in a race I know I’m going to have a lot of effort. He loves standing there and up against people to race.”
Stevenson prefers the 100 free over the 50 free, explaining that the longer distance is more forgiving of mistakes in the pool.
“I like the 100 better because the 50 relies on two underwater (swim) and one turn,” he said. “If you miss your turn, you’re in a hole. If you miss one turn in the 100, you can recover and keep pushing.
“Freestyle has always been more natural to me than the other strokes. I usually placed better in those events and have always done better in freestyle. ”
Stevenson, who started swimming at Medallion Country Club when he was 6 and is now a member of the New Albany club team, said he enjoys being part of a team.
“Everyone has the same training and we go through the same sets,” he said. “We can talk about what we like and don’t like. It’s just really nice to have others around you.”
Stevenson has a 3.8 GPA and will compete in Indiana where he aims to major in a business field.
“I think swimming helps me in class because I have a schedule and I know you have to get everything done in a set time,” he said. “I think the mental aspect of swimming is tough. On double encounters I am so tired after all the exercises. Nevertheless, you have to get into the right mindset before every race.”