Homegrown swimmer makes it big

Ben Armbruster.

By Emily-Rose Toohey

When 20-year-old Ben Armbruster found out he’d been selected to represent Australia in swimming, the news was a pleasant surprise.

After years of hard work, training, and very early mornings, the Stanthorpe local has taken his place beside Aussie swimming legends for the upcoming Birmingham Commonwealth Games in July.

But behind every success is a story of how one attained said success, and Ben’s journey has been no easy feat.

Ben’s Mum Shannon said he first trained at Stanthorpe Pool, which only opened six months a year.

“He played basketball and soccer in the winter months,” Shannon said.

She said it wasn’t until he made the Queensland squad that Ben started training year round, which meant commuting to Warwick.

“He now trains under Kyle Samuelson at Bond, where they also do gym work and have sports psychologists,” Shannon said.

However, before this training, Ben was trained by Gail Smail at Stanthorpe Pool between the ages of four and 18.

From the get-go, Gail said that Ben had a natural ability.

“It’s such a hard sport but he’s always been so good at it,” Gail said.

“When he went to year-round training, it wasn’t the same amount as most professional swimmers do.”

After years of coaching, Gail said she cried upon finding out the exciting news.

“We’ll be with him and all of Stanthorpe will be behind him,” she said of Ben’s Commonwealth Games venture.

Stanthorpe’s community spirit will be supporting Ben all the way to Birmingham, a place he’s excited to swim at.

“I’ve been working really hard in training and this experience will be great to learn and get better,” Ben said.

He’ll be joining some of Australia’s finest as part of an elite squad known as The Dolphins, comprising the likes of 2021 Olympic victor Ariarne Titmus, and so many more.

After years of what Ben describes as some pretty gruelling early starts to the day, he’s not going to let nerves get the best of him.

“I’ll into this like I go into any meet,” Ben said of the games.

Shannon, who’s one of Ben’s number one supporter’s, said participating in the games is every kid’s dream.

“Thank you to everyone for their support, I’m very proud,” she said.

Ben, who’ll be off the England in July, said he is thankful for his family and the training he received in Stanthorpe.

And the town, no doubt, is thankful to have a homegrown sportsman to cheer for this Commonwealth Games.