Men’s swimming captains are mirror images

Jim Schortemeyer

Geographically, senior captains Ty Bathurst and Jeremy Rients are the “Odd Couple” of the Gophers men’s swimming and diving team.
Bathurst hails from Albuquerque, N.M. Although the Rio Grande flows through town, the nearest natural lake is more than 100 miles away.
Rients, on the other hand, is from Apple Valley, in the land of 10,000 lakes. The two-time high school All-American seems like a more logical choice to one day become a captain for Minnesota.
Yet, here they are. Four years after high school, and the similarities are endless. Bathurst was a two-time state champion, swims sprints, has been named All-Big Ten and was named an honorable mention NCAA All-American in 1997. Not a bad guy to have on your team — especially when you have another, Rients, with the exact same credentials.
The move to Minnesota proved to be a good one for Bathurst. He met his fiancee in his first year — they just registered for gifts — and has developed into one of the leading sprinters in the Big Ten.
Rients has prospered from the competition with Bathurst as well. Although the two only compete against each other occasionally, swimming against Bathurst has made Rients even better.
Both seniors have assumed their own styles of leadership. Rients is a quiet person, who prefers to set an example for his teammates to follow. Bathurst, although not as vocal a leader as captains Brian Stroshane and Eriek Hulseman, leads the team with a different style.
“Ty’s more confrontational,” said head coach Dennis Dale. “There’s definitely a personality difference.”
Oddly, the two met before their freshman year. While they were seniors in high school, the pair swam against each other in a Junior National event. However, Bathurst and Rients didn’t know each other, and didn’t know about the race until recently.
“We looked back at a tape, and found we were both in the same heat,” Rients said. “It’s kind of funny looking back on it.”
Both seniors are enjoying the final meets and months of their senior seasons.
“You can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rients said.
Although their competition has been fierce this season, both swimmers have done well. Bathurst was blazing in November, swimming the sixth-best time in the nation in the 50-yard free, and the ninth-fastest in the 100-yard backstroke. Rients has been fast in the 100-yard free, placing himself in the top 25 in the nation.
During some of these meets, Rients and Bathurst occasionally have raced against each other. Although the competition from teams like St. Olaf and Wheaton isn’t always tough, the intersquad competition is.
“If Jeremy wasn’t there, and Brandon Schindler weren’t on the 50, I wouldn’t have to worry,” Bathurst said. “Because those guys are there, I have to concentrate every time I swim that race.”
The Gophers are in Nebraska this weekend for their most important meet in more than two months. Nebraska, ranked 16th in the nation, will host No. 13 Minnesota and No. 20 Texas A&M. But Bathurst is more than confident in the team’s abilities.
“A lot of the teams that are ranked above us won’t be there when it comes down to the end,” he said.