WILLIAMSBURG—Ben Colley took a break back here at home this past week between pressure and what may be even more pressure.
The former Lafayette High School and local club swimming standout is in position for selection to the USA Swimming National Team when it's announced Sept. 2.
The local swimming community, as well as friends and family, have been following him closely.
"It's nice to know how many people pay attention and care," Colley said.
Colley, 20 and a rising junior who now swims for the University of North Carolina, posted the fourth-fastest time in the 200-meter butterfly at last week's 2014 USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships in Irvine, Calif.
The six fastest times in each event are used to choose the national team, and there are no meets giving a swimmer a chance to surpass him between the just-completed nationals and the team selection date.
Colley's time of 1:56.54 was posted in the B final after he missed the A final by one-hundredth of a second with a career-best 1:57.81 in the preliminaries. The time of 1:56.54 was fourth best at the event, and 18th fastest in the world this year.
"It's been a fun time," Colley said. "At the meet it was obviously a lot of fun. I was little disappointed with my time in prelims, but at finals I was able to drop a little bit more time and get the time goal I wanted for the summer."
He acknowledged that he should make the national team and possibly have a chance to compete for the U.S. in upcoming international competitions.
"I'm in good position," Colley said. "That's a recognition thing. It's pretty cool. It was a goal of mine this summer to be able to get there.
"It feels pretty good. It feels like my hard work paid off."
Before returning to school this weekend and starting practice for the UNC swim season in a couple of weeks, he took a break. He said not swimming for a little while gave him a chance to reset himself, moreso mentally than physically.
"Just refocusing and re-energizing myself for the long college season," Colley said.
Local swimming coach Harold Baker coached Colley from his toddler years on up, including both club swimming and at Lafayette. He said locals follow Colley closely, and though it's a ways off, the possibility of him competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics is within reason.
"The Olympics, obviously he's in the conversation, but to make that team has to be in top two on that day for that race," Baker said. "But there's no question he has that possibility, especially if he continues to improve as he has this year.
That's rare territory. Locally born Katie Hoff swam in two individual medley races in the 2004 Athens Olympics, finishing 7th and 17th. She competed in five events at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, winning a silver medal and two bronze medals. Prior to Hoff, fellow Lafayette alumni Eric Topp was a member of the U.S. national team 1989-92 and was a finalist in the 1992 Olympic Trials in the 200-meter butterfly.
"It is very exciting," Baker said of Colley's opportunity. "I think he understands that he still has a long way to go to reach that next stage; but it's within grasp at this point."
Rusty Carter contributed to this report. Williams can be reached by phone at 757-247-4644.
National swim team
The 2014-15 USA Swimming National Team will be announced Sept. 2.