Episcopal Academy swimmer Ben Baturka is Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week

A senior, Baturka earned three wins (two individual victories) and a pool record in the 100 butterfly (52.74) as the EA boys’ swimming team earned a historic win against Germantown Academy Dec. 8. Baturka has a long history of accomplishments in the EA pool, earning All-InterAc honors in swimming and serving as captain of both the EA swimming and water polo squads. He is an  Eastern Prep finalist and EA school record holder in multiple swimming events.

Q: That was a historic win against GA on Dec. 8. What is your most vivid memory of the meet – can you share it with us? 

A: My most vivid memory is just the feeling of camaraderie that both the boys and girls teams experienced all throughout and especially at the end of the meet. To see boys and girls you’ve trained with for years all share in the same success, especially at our home pool my senior year is really something special and something I won’t be forgetting any time soon.

Q: When you set a pool record in the 100 butterfly against GA, did you sense as you hit the finish line that you might have set the record? What was the key to your success that day?

A: I pushed off the wall for the final lap and took my first stroke and my arms just felt on fire but as I took by first breath I heard everyone cheering and coach Kline whistling and thought to myself “it’s a close race, just put your head down and try to touch the wall before the other guy.” I went into the race shooting for the record but wasn’t well versed enough in the 100 fly to know what a record-breaking performance should feel like, as that was really the first time I’ve ever swam that in a meet, so when I looked at the board I didn’t know if I’d see 52 or 1:02. I think the key to my success in that was definitely the fact that it was a close race that got everyone up and cheering to help push me to the finish line, otherwise I wouldn’t have pushed it as hard as I did that last 25. 

Q: Tell us about your most memorable experience at Easterns last winter.
A: The race that stuck with me the most from last winter at Easterns was definitely the 400 free relay. Before our race at finals, our coaches told us we’d need a third place finish in our heat to ensure that the team gets sixth place overall, which at the time was unprecedented for EA boys swimming, to get to stand on the blocks at the end of the meet and receive a trophy for its performance. We all knew what we had to do and were all on the same page and we all got fired up as a team and got third in our heat and broke a school record in the process to cement our sixth place finish at the meet.

Q: What do you think is your best event, and what do you think are your particular keys to success in that event?
A: Right now and historically my best event has been the 100 back. Usually the best indication of how well I swim that event is how good my underwaters are. Before I swim the 100 back, I’ll usually get in the warm up pool and just do butterfly kick on my back to warm up the legs.

Q: Can you walk us through a typical day, or cycle, of training?

A: I usually do morning practice for an hour two or three times a week usually depending on the dual meet schedule for that week. Afternoon practices are slightly more than two hours every day Monday through Friday after school with dryland for about 30 minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays and swimming for the remainder of the time. Saturdays are either two or three hours of swimming.

Q: What aspect of your swimming have you been working on the most recently?
A: Every season January rolls around and I’m disappointed with where I am with my underwater kicking so this year I’ve been trying hard to just get them under control from the start of the season. And before the GA meet I realized that my streamlines have not been tight at all and causing too much drag so I tried to get that under control in practice as well.

Q: You’ve set a number of records at EA. What (to you) has been the highlight of your Episcopal Academy swimming career – can you share that experience with us?
A: The highlight of my EA swimming career would definitely be Easterns last year when we, as a team, earned sixth place for the first time in the programs history. Everyone really stepped up and swam or dove their hearts out and left it all in the pool and we did what we had to do as a team to earn that bowl.

Q: What pool did you first swim for? What is your favorite swimming venue, and why?

A: I learned how to swim in the Lansdowne YMCA pool, about a two minute drive away from my house, when I was in first grade. Now my favorite pool is honestly the pool at EA because it is state of the art for how new it is and I can’t think of training every day in any other pool.
Q: Who have been your biggest swimming mentors (could include family members), and what was the most important thing each of them taught you? 

A: My first big swim mentor was my first coach Matt Stewart, who I swam for at Aronimink Swim Club during summer swim seasons. We bonded over our shared appreciation for the band U2, and he was really my first mentor who left a lasting impact. However, the mentor who has been the most influential to my swimming has been Quincy Hyson, who I’ve trained with since I came to Episcopal Academy in sixth grade. His dedication to me and my sister’s training and performances has been something that I’ve always appreciated- sometimes we would be the only three from our team at big swim meets and he was just there alone as our coach, so over the years the Baturkas have grown very close to Quincy. 
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-meet preparation the day of a meet.

A: Well for large prelim/final meets that sometimes require shaving and all that preparation I have some rituals I like to follow, but for the large number of high school duel meets we have, all at the end of a busy school day, there isn’t much opportunity for any pre-meet preparation. I usually just walk to the athletic center after the school day, get changed as quickly as possible, and spend any time I have before the meet warming up and getting fired-up with my teammates. 
Q: As a senior captain, how do you try to exercise your leadership role on the EA swimming and water polo squads?
A: Well I have found that the captain’s role is mostly about the younger kids on the team. Upperclassmen don’t tend to need as much guidance, as they’ve been through swim or water polo seasons before and should know what they are doing and what needs to be done, but underclassmen are usually less sure about what to do, what needs to be done, so someone who leads by example could really be a big influence on them. Especially for a big meet like GA last week, someone to get everyone excited to swim and cheer for their teammates is really appreciated, so I did give a team talk before the meet just trying to get the guys fired up and ready to swim.

Q: What attracted you most to water polo? What (to you) has been your most memorable experience as a member of the EA water polo squad?

A: Well I started playing water polo in middle school, and I was initially captured by the necessary sense of teamwork that I haven’t had the chance to experience with swimming before I came to EA. And this sense of team unity that needs to be there for a successful water polo team was highlighted in my last game for the school, on EA/Haverford Day. Everything just came together that day, every boy in the pool for us that day knew exactly what was going on, what needed to be done on every possession, and our system just ran smoothly like a well-oiled machine so it was really the perfect way to sign off from the team, to win that game 14-5. 

Q: What would you like to major in at college? Is there a career path that particularly interests you?
A: I don’t necessarily have any plans for a career path just yet, but I do plan on continuing my studies in Latin and Greek.

Fun facts – Ben Baturka 
Favorite TV show: The Office
Favorite movie: Inception
Favorite athlete: Cristiano Ronaldo
Favorite pre-meet pump-up song: Until the End of the World by U2
Favorite team: “Manchester United, although it’s been really hard to say that recently due to their current form.” 
Favorite place to visit: The Finger Lakes 
Favorite color: “Gray, and all my friends know it. I exploit every opportunity to wear a groufit (gray+outfit) whenever possible. Every dress-down day, I often say “If you see and I’m not wearing a groufit, tackle that imposter, because it isn’t me.” 
Birthdate: May 28, 1998 
Place of birth: Bryn Mawr 
Family members: Parents Brad and Angie, sister Emily, twin sister Sarah. 
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be selected by his coach.)

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