Men’s swimmer makes own mark for Gophers

by Ryan Schuster

When he was a kid, Ty Bathurst always wanted to be like his older brother Rob.
It was Rob, now 24, who first gave Ty the ambition to start swimming. When Bathurst was a sophomore at Eldorado High School in Albuquerque, N.M., he decided to try out for the swim team, partially because Rob swam in high school.
“My brother used to swim and I thought it would be pretty cool to try it,” Bathurst said. “I just thought I’d do it for that one year and that would be it.”
The plan back-fired and Bathurst found his calling in the pool. It did, however, take him a while to adjust to the new sport.
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Bathurst said. “Swimming is a hard sport. It’s a lot harder than it looks.”
Because of his late start, he wasn’t highly recruited out of high school.
In fact, the only reason Minnesota swimming coach Dennis Dale even knew about Bathurst was because Bathurst’s high school coach knew Dale. Gordy Westerberg, Bathurst’s coach, swam for Dale when Dale was still coaching at Burnsville High School.
The Gophers were the only team that really knew about Bathurst before he became a top high school swimmer. He came to Minnesota on a recruiting trip early in his senior year, and was hooked.
“He truly liked our sprint program,” Dale said. “By the time his visit ended, he knew he wanted to come here.”
When Bathurst blossomed during his senior season, he had already committed to the Gophers. He was a New Mexico state champion, the state high school Swimmer of the Year and a high school All-American during his senior campaign in 1994.
He has since adjusted well to collegiate swimming.
In his two-plus years at Minnesota, Bathurst has been a five-time Big Ten finalist and received All-America honorable mention honors last year as a member of the 200-yard freestyle and 200 medley relay squads. He has Minnesota’s fifth-best time in the 50 freestyle and the sixth-best 100 breaststroke time in the history of the program.
Dale said he sees many good qualities in Bathurst and expects big things from him in the future.
“He’s very explosive in the water,” Dale said. “Ty has the best start and is probably the best sprinter in the Big Ten. He has the qualities you look for in a sprinter: big, strong and aggressive. We want him to win the Big Ten Championship and score at NCAAs for us. He will set the school record in the 50 free before he graduates.”
Bathurst isn’t satisfied with his initial success either.
“I want to get my name on top of the record board in the 50,” Bathurst said.
Another one of his goals is to score individually at the NCAA Championships. He is candid about what it will take for him to achieve those goals.
“It will take a little bit of luck and a lot of practice,” Bathurst said.
Bathurst has also found success outside of the pool as well. He has excelled in the classroom in addition to swimming. Last year Bathurst was named academic All-Big Ten in his sophomore season swimming at Minnesota. He probably would have earned the honor his freshmen year as well if Big Ten rules didn’t prohibit swimmers from being named academic All-Big Ten in their first year of eligibility.
His private life is as busy as his swimming and class schedules. Last week the 20-year-old got engaged to senior women’s swimmer Devon Coellner. The couple hopes to get married in two years after Ty graduates.
By then, Bathurst hopes to either be coaching or in the Navy.
“I want to go into the Navy Seals program,” Bathurst said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I can’t see myself behind a desk pushing pencils.”
Bathurst might decide to follow his brother’s lead once again. Rob is currently in Navy Seal training.
Despite having both swimming and an aspiration for the Navy in common, there are differences between the two brothers. Rob quit both swimming and college, while Ty is still doing both.
“There’s no doubt Rob has been an influence in his life, but that’s not reason enough for him to do something,” Dale said.
Whether or not Bathurst chooses to join the military after college, one thing is clear — Bathurst made the right choice in coming to Minnesota.
“Ty kind of epitomizes our program,” Dale said. “We ended up with an athlete and a program that were a pretty good match.”