There is no such thing as a quiet swimmer.
If anyone comes close to it — it’s Tunkhannock’s Ben Spencer. For all of the flamboyance and pride that comes with the sport, the Tigers senior spent four years finding success in an unassuming way in the Wyoming Valley Conference North Division.
But Spencer won’t be quietly sneaking up on anyone at this week’s PIAA Class 2A Boys Swimming and Diving Championships today and Thursday. His competition will have an eye on the multi-talented swimmer wearing black and orange. As far as pre-meet psych sheets go, he’s positioned to compete for two individual medals and one relay medal.
“He looks good,” Tunkhannock coach Tim Mislevy said. “He’s got it together mentally. He says feels good, and he’s been swimming well in the water. We’ve still been spending some time on speed work, starts, fine-tuning some things.”
Spencer has the area’s best chance at a state gold, silver or bronze at the Bucknell University-based championships. Eyes will be on Spencer in the 200 IM, where he is seeded third with a time of 1:58.09. It was just two weeks ago at districts when he took down senior broke former Bishop Hoban star Mark Bellow’s 23-year old district record of 1:58.94 by 85-hundredths of a second.
But Mislevy said Spencer wasn’t so flawless in his 50 backstroke — his signature stroke — during the district IM meet. He’ll need to perfect his backstroke if he wants to end up on the awards podium.
“When you get down there, there’s little room for error,” Mislevy said. “He’s trying not to think about that too much. Hopefully puts his best race together and see what that ends up.”
After reviewing tape of the district meet, Mislevy noticed two mishaps that, if corrected, could cut down his time significantly. He’ll need to do that in order to catch up to Mars’ Christopher Georgiadis and Lancaster Catholic’s Everett Albert. Spencer is trailing three-quarters of a second behind Georgiadis and 2.15 seconds behind the favored Albert.
Spencer also hopes to move up the standings in the 100 back, where he is seeded eighth. He admitted after districts that he was not happy with his time of 53.65 seconds.
He’ll also compete as a backstroker in a 200 medley relay team that is positioned in 14th at 1:41.17. Juniors Joey Moffitt and Matt Miller will swim the breaststroke and butterfly, respectively. Fellow senior James Proulx mans the anchor slot. The team chemistry of the 200 medley team says been attributed to Spencer and Proulx’s leadership, according to Mislevy.
“They are like brothers. They are pushing each other to get better,” Mislevy said. “They are always talking swimming.”
Spencer will conclude what has been one of the most successful swimming careers in Tunkhannock history. Mislevy noted that Spencer quietly studies the sport, often relying on his mental ability to correct and overcome mistakes that cost valuable time in close races.
“He’s come a long ways,” Mislevy said. “Every year he gets better technically we talk about his races. He’s just got a lot stronger mentally. He thinks about what he has to do and he goes about doing it. Quite smart. When he makes a mistake, he knows how to fix it during the race.
“He’s been very coachable. He takes constructive criticism. He’s open minded to try new things.”