With less than two weeks before the men's Ivy League swimming and diving championships, The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with junior swimmer Ben Feldman — who earned a trio of top-10 finishes at last year's competition — to ask him 15 questions about his craft, his time on the team, and his personal life. Here's what he had to say.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Ben Feldman, a junior studying philosophy, politics, and economics at Penn. I’m a swimmer on the swimming and diving team and I do butterfly and freestyle short lengths.
2. How did you get started in swimming?
I had the mommy and me, [and] daddy and me classes when I was around three years old. My sister was also into diving and I was just sitting in the pool for a long time when I was five or seven years old so my parents decided that I may as well just start swimming.
3. What is your favorite stroke and event?
I like the 50-meter freestyle because you're kind of done with it in 19 seconds if you’re good. I’m not going to say it’s painless, because it definitely is painful, but it’s just done in the shortest amount of time, which gets you to put all of your effort out there and be done.
4. How did you end up choosing Penn?
It’s a mix of a lot of things. I love the coach and when I came here on my initial visit, there was an instant culture match. I felt that I would fit in here and excel — not just in the pool but outside the pool.
5. What is your favorite race or meet that you have competed in so far at Penn?
Probably [the Zippy Invitational] in Akron, Ohio last year. It was my first major meet coming out of quarantine. I was really close to quitting over quarantine so I didn’t think I would go fast. But I swam that, and I ranked myself pretty well which was surprising for me.
6. How do you mentally prepare for a big race?
I would say I’m a bit different. A lot of swimmers tend to overthink before races but I kind of like to turn my brain off, have no thoughts at the moment, and let my training and my instincts take over. Doing only sprint events helps as well as I don’t have to go into strategy.
7. Who do you look forward to competing against?
I look forward to beating Yale. I’m from Connecticut so I just can’t lose to them.
8. What are your expectations for the upcoming Ivy League Championship?
I don’t like to overthink about races so I don’t really have expectations. I just expect myself to go as fast as I possibly can.
9. What is your personal goal this year?
I want to get a team record. This is my goal. Maybe the 50-meter free or the 100-meter fly, either one.
10. How do you manage sports and academics?
It’s hard to study after a brutal four hours of training — I’m tired 24/7. You just gotta put yourself in the library, drink a coffee, put your head down, and study.
11. Favorite study spots on campus?
I want to keep it a secret. But if you really want to know, it is the Biomed basement. It’s a good spot; nobody is ever there.
12. What are your hobbies?
I love just spending time with my friends, cooking, and playing Mario Kart and any Wii games.
13. Favorite place to get food on campus?
I love Hemo’s chicken sandwich, as I go there at least two or three times a week.
14. What advice would you give to aspiring college athletes or your new teammates?
Don’t kill yourself over it. There are plenty of opportunities for you to excel in college whether that comes through sports, academics, or club involvement. Being a student-athlete doesn’t only make you a student or an athlete — you can do everything. Don’t put too much stress on being the best at everything.
15. What are your plans for after graduation, both in terms of swimming and your future career?
I’d like to get a job, maybe in finance or consulting. Definitely no swimming outside of college — I’m not at that level. But maybe swimming at the Olympic trials which is happening in 2024 right after I graduate — that would be cool.