NEVADA, Mo. (BVM) — Ben Hines is one of the top high school swimmers in the country, and shows no signs of slowing down. The 17-year-old has won back-to-back MSHSAA Class 1A state championships in both the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle competitions, and will have a chance for a three-peat as a senior. After he graduates from Nevada High School, Hines will swim at the University of Alabama, and may have an Olympic future in his sights.
Remarkably, Hines was swimming competitively already when he was just 4 years old. He played multiple sports growing up, and still competes in track and field in high school. But his talent in the pool was undeniable right away, and Hines always enjoyed swimming ever since he can remember.
“Ever since I was little, I just loved being in the water,” Hines said. “When I turned 4, my parents put me on the swim team. My first race I actually had to be pushed in the pool because I was crying and didn’t want to do it. But ever since that, it’s just been something I’ve wanted to do.”
Hines grew up swimming for Lamar TigerSharks until he was 10, setting records for his age group while competing. He and his family quickly realized his talent in the pool, so he joined USA Swimming to further develop his skills.
Specifically, Hines has been part of the Berzerker Swimming club for the last eight years. Some of his biggest accomplishments with them include making the U.S. Open, and qualifying for the Pro-Am, which pits pro swimmers up against amateurs. One of Hines’ favorite memories in the pool came in that event, where he got to compete against former world champion swimmer, Giles Smith, who he nearly beat in the 100 freestyle.
“I’d say that’s probably one of my best memories,” Hines said about competing against Smith. “To qualify for these meets and be there is just awesome. Being in the lanes with the pros is just a whole different feeling.”
Hines also credits the experience he has gotten through Berzerker as a huge benefit for his future swimming career.
“The experience is huge and that’s one of the biggest things in swimming,” Hines added. “I think it will really help me in college because I have already experienced swimming with those high-caliber athletes. A lot of the top DI guys on each team are at those meets and I think I’ll fit right in.”
The 17-year-old swimming star does indeed fit in with his competition, as he will become a Division I college swimmer next fall himself. Last year, Hines officially committed to continue his swimming career with the University of Alabama.
Hines received strong college interest, and had double-digit Division I program offers. He only took three of his five official college campus visits, however. The third visit was to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and after that, he knew where he wanted to compete in the future.
“Their swimming program is on another level,” Hines said about Alabama. “Their facilities are as well. Everything they have, the other schools have too, but Alabama’s is ten times bigger and ten times nicer. It’s amazing.”
The swimmer hopes to make an immediate impact on the Crimson Tide swimming program, and looks forward to competing in the SEC conference meet in the future. But first, Hines has business to take care of as he finishes up what has been a decorated swimming career at Nevada High School.
As a freshman, Hines emerged on the scene immediately for the Nevada swimming program. With many of his friends being upperclassmen, Hines felt comfortable right away on his new team, and had a successful season, placing second at state in the 50 freestyle, and third in the 100. However, not coming home with the top prize in either event motivated Hines for the future.
“I fell just a little bit short in the 50 and 100 free and that really got to me,” Hines explained. “But the year after that, I really stepped up to the plate.”
During his sophomore season, Hines became even more dominant. With the motivation from the previous season, the swimmer took home state titles in both the 50 and 100 freestyle. But he also enjoyed competing in team relays at state, allowing him to share his proud moments with his teammates.
“Winning those first two state titles was like having a dump truck pulled off my shoulders,” Hines said. “It was a lot of stress on me but it was so nice to get that off my back. Sophomore year was just awesome and it was big to have my teammates at state with me.”
As expected, Hines got even better as a junior. His team again would compete in relays at state, but it is what the future University of Alabama swimmer did individually at state that drew the eyes of many. Hines once again won individual state titles in the 50 and 100 freestyle. But he also set records in the process.
In the 50 freestyle, Hines set a state record with a time of 20.07 seconds. In the 100 freestyle, Hines achieved a time of 45.28, setting an MSHSAA Class 1A record. To set these two marks while also going back-to-back at state meant a lot for Hines.
“The environment at state and going back-to-back was just awesome,” Hines said. “Getting those records and listening to everyone go crazy when I hit the wall was an amazing feeling. It’s awesome to know that I’m one of the best to ever come through Missouri, but I’m still always pushing to be better.”
As Hines progresses through his senior season at Nevada, he hopes to continue his successful career in the pool. The 17-year-old will look to win multiple state titles again while breaking the records he has previously set in his two main events. But being the team player he is in what is a predominantly individual-based sport, Hines’ main goal is to get the younger guys on the team ready to take over the reigns once he leaves.
“I want to get the younger guys built up and get enough experience this year so they are able to be successful in the coming years,” Hines said. “Our town is pretty small and there are only a handful of DI athletes that have ever come out of here. But I think I can really do something to help give this town a name and it’d just be awesome for this town.”
Hines has received numerous accolades for his impressive prep swimming career. One of the most notable has been being named swimmer of the year by the Joplin Globe for three years straight.
With Hines hoping to make a name for himself and his town past high school, there is one goal that comes to mind, and it can be achieved as soon as next summer. Hines’ ultimate goal is to swim for Team USA in the Olympics, and he will attempt to qualify for the 2021 games next summer.
“Within the next four years, I’m definitely shooting for making an Olympic team,” Hines said. “That’s one of my biggest goals and if not that, I want to make the USA National team. It’s going to take a lot to get there and it will take another step once I get to college. It will take a toll on me but you just have to put your nose down to the grindstone and do what it takes to get there.”
As Hines competes in his final high school season, anyone that watches him in the pool knows he has a chance to achieve his Olympic dream. And actually doing so while representing his country on the world’s biggest stage would mean more to Hines than anything.
“That’s ultimately the main goal,” Hines said. “It would just be an honor to represent the country and swim at that high of a level. Words just can’t explain what that would mean.”