Ben Blanchard takes the plunge
February 13, 2013 · Updated 5:10 PM
As a sophomore, Auburn Riverside’s Ben Blanchard started diving for two simple reasons.
“I had friends on the swim team,” Blanchard said. “And I just started because I wanted to use the skills that I learned in the summer off bridges and stuff like that.”
Fun and camaraderie may have been the motivation for his plunge into the sport three years ago, but at the end of last season Blanchard, now a senior, decided he wanted more.
“I saw how good some of the kids were, and I thought that if I practiced I could be as good as some of them the next year,” Blanchard said. “So I practiced pretty hard. Previous years were more for fun, but this year I took it pretty serious.”
This season his dedication paid off, with Blanchard fulfilling his preseason goal of qualifying for the state 4A championships Friday and Saturday at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way.
Blanchard secured his state berth on Feb. 2 at the West Central District III 4A meet, where he posted a 300.6-point total to win the district title.
Ravens coach Patrick McKeehan remembers seeing the improvement in Blanchard’s technique.
“He really made some strides at the end of last year,” McKeehan said. “You could see it with his height off the board and his body control. He just came on really strong. This year it’s just been a phenomenal year for him.”
McKeehan added that Blanchard’s work with diving coach Jim Southerland immediately paid dividends this season.
“He started the year with a second-place finish at a meet against Mount Rainier,” he said.
For the rest of the season. Blanchard dominated the competition, finishing first in the rest of his regular-season meets.
Blanchard credits the guidance of his diving coach for his improvement.
“I am very thankful to have such a great coach who makes practice fun while teaching me new skills,” he said.
Now all that’s left is the state championships.
And though he may be concentrating on the momentous task of vying for a state diving title, don’t think for a minute Blanchard isn’t also going to find a way to have a little fun.
“I’m kind of intimidated, but I’m just more excited about it than anything,” he said. “I get to jump of the tower (the 10-meter diving platform), so that’s going to be fun.”