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Behind the ball: Meet the president of Clemson’s club swim team

Elizabeth Williams
The Clemson club swim team lines up against South Carolina in February. The swim team hosts home meets in the McHugh Natatorium of Fike Recreation Center.

Sarah Pepe, senior reporter for The Tiger, sat down with Ben Simpkins, president of the Clemson club swim team, to gain insight into the team.

Sarah Pepe (SP): Can you tell me about the team dynamic?

Ben Simpkins (BK): As far as team dynamic goes, we are all super good friends. We don’t really have a requirement on how good you have to be to be on the team. We have people who are just starting out swimming and don’t have a ton of skill, and we have people who swam their whole lives and could have swam in college at Divison I, so we really take anybody, and the more, the better. We can score more points, and it is just a better team all around with more people.

SP: When and where do you guys practice and have meets?

BK: We practice four times a week from 8-9:30 p.m. in Fike Recreation Center. We have competitions three times a semester, two away and one home meet, and once a year, we have our national meet, which is at various locations.

SP: With a UGA meet later this month, how are you preparing for this?

BK: It will be super fun to go to Athens. It is our first meet, so a lot of people will be out of shape, but we will get back in shape for the semester. I am currently trying to plan the logistics of the trip. It has been hard to get transportation this semester for meets.

In the past, I have rented 12-passenger vans, and Clemson recently changed its policy, so it is pretty hard to get them now. I don’t know if I will be able to get transportation, so we might have to drive ourselves for that. I have been working on it for two/three weeks, and it is just so difficult to rent vans now.

SP: Do you often find you are running into problems with Clemson funding and support?

BK: They are not as supportive as they could be. They are supportive, but it could be better. For example, with funding, we got nowhere near what we requested for this year. We only got $8,000, which is nowhere near how much our expenses are for the year. Obviously, we have dues that fund some of it, but we are still going to be in the negative this year for spending. There is not enough money to give out for the amount that was requested.

SP: How do you guys deal with the lack of compensation for funding from the University?

BK: In the past, there wasn’t that big of a problem. Two years ago, we got almost double the amount we got this year. This year, we did have to raise dues a little bit, which is unfortunate for all of the members. Obviously, they don’t want to pay more money, but it’s something we have to do to offset the lack of funding the school gave us.

We normally do concessions for the baseball game that ends up raising a good bit of money. We do a Chipotle fundraiser, which doesn’t bring in a lot, but it is something. We are going to have to think of some more fundraisers for this year because we are going to be down money.

SP: How do you think being a part of this club has influenced your experience here and as a swimmer?

BK: I love swimming, and it is a big part of my life and always has been. Because of this, I wanted to become the president, and I am now. I spend a lot of time on the team, and I want to make it the best experience for all of the younger people. I had a good experience with the last president, so I want to make it just as good or even better.

The swim team will compete next when they travel to Athens, Georgia, to take on Georgia on Saturday, Sept. 30 at noon.

Interview responses were edited for length and clarity.

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Sarah Pepe
Sarah Pepe, Senior Reporter
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