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After having a announced a verbal commitment to swim at Georgia Tech beginning in the fall of 2023, 19-point 50-yard freestyler and backstroker Ben Irwin has changed his commitment and will now attend the United States Naval Academy.
“I am honored and excited to announce my commitment to the Naval Academy! Thank you to my parents, coaches, and friends that helped me reach this point! I am excited to have the opportunity to serve my country and join the brotherhood! Go Navy! Beat Army!”
Irwin is in his senior year at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, and swims year-round for Swim Atlanta. In April 2022, Irwin announced his verbal commitment to stay in-state and swim for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. This was a huge pick-up for Georgia Tech (and is now an even bigger one for Navy) as Irwin was published on our list of Top Recruits from the Class of 2023 as the #17 recruit in the country. He has also gone under the 20-second barrier in the 50-yard free since he committed to Georgia Tech, making him the first 19-point 50-yard freestyler to commit to Navy. His best times at the time of his commitment to GT also would have already seen him score in the ACC Conference Championships.
Irwin has hit best times in all of his events since he initially committed to Georgia Tech. At Winter Junior Nationals East in December 2022, Irwin hit best times in his 100/200 backstrokes, his 50/100/200-yard freestyles and his 100-yard butterfly. He made finals in all of his events and placed highest in the 200-yard backstroke, touching 3rd with a 1:41.86. He placed 5th in both the 100-yard fly (46.82) and 100-yard backstroke (46.43), though he went faster in prelims of the 100-yard backstroke (46.31).
Irwin also made finals in the 50 freestyle, breaking the 20-second barrier for the first time (10th, 19.99). His 100/200-yard freestyle best times came from 4×100 and 4×200-yard freestyle relay lead-offs (44.54/1:37.22), with both relays scoring in the A final.
Best Times SCY:
50 free — 19.99
100 free — 44.54
200 free — 1:37.22
100 back — 46.31
200 back — 1:41.86
100 fly — 46.82
With the switch from the ACC to the Patriot League, Irwin is projected to score some big-time points for the championship-defending Navy team. His sub-20 50-yard free best time would have gotten him 3rd place, ahead of then-Navy senior Callen Aulizia (4th, 20.23). Though Navy had a fairly stacked field in the 100-yard fly, Irwin’s best time would have landed him in 2nd between two Navy teammates, juniors Jonah Harm (1st, 46.27) and Pat Colwell (2nd, 46.84).
Despite his 100-yard fly time, Irwin will likely swim the 50-yard free and the 100/200-yard backstrokes, due to the Patriot League conference schedule. His 100-yard back best time would have put him 2nd behind Navy senior Caleb Mauldin, who set a conference record in 2022 with a time of 46.12. His 200-yard backstroke would have demolished the field by about 4 seconds, beating Loyola freshman Henry Mueller’s 1:45.74, and setting a conference record. On top of all those projected top-3 finishes, Irwin’s sprint freestyle would likely get him a spot on the Navy freestyle relay teams: he would be the 4th fastest leg on the 4×50 and the 4×100.
Historically, Navy has dominated the Patriot League, winning the last eighteen consecutive championships. Army has tightened the gap recently, however, losing by only 133.5 points in 2022 and winning the annual dual meet between the two teams in December, 192-108. Army has an impressive incoming recruiting class as well, adding to their pursuit of unseating Navy as Patriot League Champions. With commitments like Irwin, however, Navy is also actively bolstering its roster, setting the stage for the legendary rivalry to escalate in coming seasons.
Irwin also has some family ties to the Naval Academy — his sister Caroline Irwin is currently in her sophomore season on the Navy Women’s team.
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