North Carolina State Champion James Bennison Commits To UNC (2024)

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USA Swimming Scholastic All-American James Bennison has announced his decision to remain in-state with the UNC Tar Heels. Bennison attends Heritage High School and swims year-round for New Wave Swim Team in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

He shared his commitment on Instagram:

Bennison is a freestyle and backstroke specialist. He advanced to the C-final at summer Junior Nationals in the 200m backstroke, where he clocked a personal best time of 2:04.19 to finish 20th overall. At Juniors, he also competed in the 100m backstroke where he finished 39th with a best time of 57.89.

Most recently, Bennison raced at the 2023 North Carolina High School State Championships. He advanced to the championship final in both of his individual events, and came away with the state title in the 100 backstroke for the first time in his high school career. He also finished 7th in the 200 free with a best time of 1:40.21 done in prelims. 

Top SCY Times:

100 free – 47.00
200 free – 1:40.21
100 back – 48.92
200 back – 1:47.42

The Tar Heels finished 8th out of 12 teams at the 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championships. This year, it took a 1:45.03 to advance to the C-final in the 200 back and a 47.58 to make it back in the 100 backstroke. Bennison is outside of scoring range now, but still has over a year to continue to improve before arriving in Chapel Hill. 

UNC had Noah Rutberg, Matt Van Deusen, and Alex Mays in the C-final of the 200 back this year. Rutberg was the fastest performer of  the group with a 1:42.98, while the other two were just behind at 1:43.13 and 1:44.01, respectively. Rutberg was also the team’s top performer in the 100 back, as he led off the team’s 400 medley relay at ACCs in 46.49. Rutberg and Mays will have graduated by the time Bennison arrives, but Van Deusen should still be on campus for another year.

Bennison joins Nate Hohm, JT Schmid, Brady Begin, Eddie Jin, and PJ Foy in UNC’s class of 2028. Hohm, who is also a North Carolina native, focuses on sprint freestyle. Begin is a pure distance swimmer, while Jin and Schmid swim a little bit of everything. 

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