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The idea of the center lane of the University of Wisconsin Madison Natatorium and all the weight that it carries did not phase Brown Deer/University School junior swimmer Ben Hayes at the WIAA Division 2 state meet Feb. 17.

Coming in as a heavy favorite in both the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke, the moment was not too big for Hayes, and he came away with impressive state championships in both events.

The University School student Hayes overcame any jitters and became the first Brown Deer/USM boys swimmer to claim a state championship.

"Nerves didn't seem to get to me," he said. "I didn't get too high. I tried not to think about it too much. I had a couple of teammates along, and we were able to joke around with me, help keep me relaxed."

What also helped is that the man was not slowing down at all after state. He had a high level regional club meet the day after state at Homestead High School (Feb. 18) and at 9:15 a.m. that morning, he was helping younger kids with their swim lessons.

He said he resisted the urge to wear his state medals to the lessons, even though the kids would have probably paid a little more attention to him had he gone through with it.

His relaxation strategies more than worked, as he turned in a pair of personal bests in earning his crowns. He touched the wall with a time of 1:52.43 in taking the individual medley, well ahead of DeForest senior Ryan Ramminger (1:55.02).

"When I hit the wall, it was pretty awesome," said Hayes. "It was not so much a sigh of relief as much as I was just glad to get the first one under my belt. It also really helped my confidence going into the second race and made me glad that I had a lot of guys (from the team) with me.

"But, wow, when I hit the wall. I looked up at the scoreboard, and I realized I had just won a state championship."

After taking a few races off to cool down and calm down, he went back at it in the breaststroke and beat Ramminger again with a 57.94 clocking. Ramminger came home in 58.62.

"I got ahead at the 50, which was good because I could feel him (Ramminger) closing in on me," said Hayes. "I knew he was there because I could hear the crowd."

Hayes said he was happy for the noise of the Natatorium.

"The crowd, the atmosphere is amazing," he said. "The amount of noise (the fans make) really gets you hyped up."

His time in the IM was close to four full seconds ahead of his clocking from last season while his breaststroke clocking was close to a full second faster.

The two victories gave Brown Deer/USM a total of 40 points, good for 15th place in the 30-plus team field as Monona Grove defended its title with an impressive 381 points.

The twin victories fulfill a year long goal after Hayes took third in the IM and second in the breaststroke in last year's state meet.

"The podium (the awards ceremony) was pretty incredible," he said. "It's really great because everyone cheers for you, not just your fans."

His schedule will remain busy as he now prepares to be looked at one of the top returnees in the D2 field going into next season along with Monona Grove 200 and 500 free champ Ben McDade. He'll have the state club meet in a few weeks and then nationals down in Florida a short time after that.

"It'll be nice to be known now," he said. "It'll be a little unsettling going into next year, because now everyone will be charging hard after me, but still the idea of being a two-time state champ is a pretty nice thought."

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