Benjamin Walker Wins A&M Men’s First SEC Swimming Title

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 3

February 24th, 2019 College, News, SEC

2019 SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE SWIMMING & DIVING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Texas A&M junior Benjamin Walker made his first collegiate commitment to the University of Georgia. While he never wound up swimming for the Bulldogs, instead changing his commitment to the Aggies, there was obviously something about the Gabrielsen Natatorium that appealed to him.

And so the pool on the University of Georgia campus was a fitting backdrop for a moment of Texas A&M men’s swimming history. Walker won the 200 breaststroke on Saturday to close his SEC Championship meet in 1:52.55, and that made him the first male swimmer in program history to win an SEC title.

The Texas A&M women adapted to their new conference quickly when they arrived in the 2012-2013 season, and have won 4 consecutive SEC team titles to go with numerous individual championships. But the men, who previously were in a small 3-team Big 12 Conference, have taken a few more years to build their way toward the top.

Ford McLiney won the 2014 SEC titles on both the 3-meter sprinngboard and platform, but until Walker’s breakthrough swim on Saturday, the A&M swimming men had never been on top of the podium in their new conference.

Walker’s previous best time in the event was a 1:54.01 from NCAAs last year, meaning he dropped 1.5 seconds this week in Athens.

His rise has mirrored that of the A&M men’s team as a whole.

In their first 5 seasons in the SEC, the Aggies finished 7th, 7th, 8th, 8th, and 7th. Last season, though, there seemed to be a dramatic shift for the Aggies. Throughout their time in the SEC and before it, they’d developed a few swimmers who were competitive in the conference, put together some solid relays, and always had great divers. But in 2017-2018, it seemed like that success started to coalesce into something bigger, like a snowball rolling down the hill. The A&M men were showing up in more conference A finals, and more of those swimmers were finishing at the top of those finals.

Last season was the bit of a top of the hill for the A&M men, as they graduated a lot of their top swimmers. But this year, they’ll be rebuilding from a much higher valley, having brought in the 12th-ranked recruiting class in the country this season: a class that performed at least to that ranking, if not better. With a few veterans like Walker in the mix, the A&M men now have upward momentum again, with a lot of talent (including more domestic talent than they’ve had in the past) to carry the program to new heights.

3
Leave a Reply

3 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
3 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Agon

And none more deserving of this honor than Ben. Congratulations on all your hard work buddy, all the way from the 9th lane of SCO to the top of the SEC podium!

TheArtOfTheSwim

That Walker kid looks like a young JFK. Big future ahead for him

fluidg

It’s worth mentioning that Ben also had the fastest breaststroke split of the entire field in the 4×100 medley relay (51.40). Only Hicks of Missouri was close (51.51). And he also posted the 4th fastest overall time in the 400 IM. They build breaststrokers in College Station. It’s probably the event that benefits most from physical maturity and they get better as they get stronger, but the key is really having generations of mentors who can teach all of the other things it takes to be great at breaststroke. When you consider what the Aggie women’s breaststroke corps has consistently achieved, Texas A&M is a breaststroke powerhouse. It really started with Alia and Breeja. Then Mauro brought along Tybur and… Read more »

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »

Want to take your swimfandom to the next level?

Subscribe to SwimSwam Magazine!