Ben Colley had a regular day of classes at the University of North Carolina on Tuesday, capped off by confirmation that, as expected, he was selected for the USA Swimming National Team.
Colley, 20, is a Williamsburg native and former club team and Lafayette High star swimmer. He made the national team in the 200-meter butterfly, with the fourth-fastest time in the country of 1:56.54 at nationals in mid-August.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Colley said. “It wasn’t really that much of a surprise, but it was still relieving to finally know.”
The national team is comprised of the top swimmers in each Olympic event. Swimmers were selected for the team based on their times in Olympic events from the combined results of the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships and the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, according to USA Swimming.
Big names on the team include world-record holders Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps.
News of the team announcement traveled quickly, with Colley saying he heard it from his coach at UNC by text message. By the time he texted his parents at home, they already knew.
“People texted and congratulated me,” Colley said. “That was all pretty cool, a lot of people reaching out on Twitter and Facebook.”
Colley, a junior at UNC, is in his third week of classes back at college and started Tar Heels swim practice there Thursday. He took a short break at home in August after nationals.
Making the national team was the next step for him.
“It’s just a nice recognition, just a stepping stone,” he said. “I never really thought I would be in this conversation.”
Swimmers will find out in early October if they have been selected to compete in any international meets, with the next possibility being the World University Games in South Korea next July, he said.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to make that,” Colley said. “They take two people per event, and the last spot is between me and one other guy. We’ll just have to see who they decide to take, which is kind of the next step after the college season.”
Colley earned his spot on the team at nationals in Irvine, Calif., in mid-August. There were no meets giving a swimmer a chance to surpass him between 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 then-career-best 1:57.81 in the preliminaries. The time of 1:56.54 was the 18th-fastest in the world this year.
Local coach Harold Baker, who coached Colley from his toddler years on up, including both club swimming and at Lafayette, said in August that there are a lot of steps for U.S. team hopefuls between now and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.
“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.”
Williams can be reached by phone at 757-247-4644.