Hatanaka bros star for Minnesota

David Nelson

If you’re expecting a stereotypical, competitive sibling rivalry between the Hatanaka brothers, you’re in the wrong pool.

There’s no tension between the two brothers on the Gophers swimming and diving team — no jealousy, no rivalry, just swimming.

Growing up in Loveland, Colo., junior Brandon Hatanaka and freshman Nick Hatanaka swam together for both the Loveland Swim Club team and the Loveland High School team.

Brandon Hatanaka started swimming when he was 4 years old, with Nick following soon after.

And while some siblings might find so much time together nauseating, Brandon Hatanaka said he’s thankful for the chance to swim with Nick for a few more years.

“It’s always great having your little brother there,” Brandon said. “I’m glad he’s on the same team [as me] and glad we can continue that tradition.”

For the Hatanakas, winning seems to be a tradition.

The brothers helped the Gophers earn 36 points in last week’s meet against North Carolina State.

“It was a lot of fun,” Nick Hatanaka said. “I was watching his race, and that just motivated me to do my very best.”

Though the two share the common success inside the pool, head coach Kelly Kremer said their personalities diverge outside of it.

“They’re very different,” Kremer said. “Brandon’s much more outgoing … [and] Nick’s more reserved.”

Still, even with the personality variations, Kremer said the two share an important trait — a competitive drive.

“They hate to lose, and you can see it when they’re swimming,” Kremer said.

Kremer hasn’t yet had a chance to pit the brothers against each other in practice, but Nick Hatanaka said he usually got the best of Brandon when they were growing up.

“When we were younger, we were both breaststrokers,” Nick said. “And then once I started beating him, I think he started to move away from breaststroke.”

While he might have gotten the best of his older brother in the pool, Nick Hatanaka said he wouldn’t be where he is today without Brandon.

Nick said toward the beginning of the year, he was a little uncomfortable with the new atmosphere but said his brother helped him through the freshman jitters.

“As the process went on, he gave me tips here and there, and he really helped me a lot,” Nick Hatanaka said.

Brandon Hatanaka said his experience at Minnesota has improved with Nick now back at his side.

“I haven’t had him [around] so much the last two years,” Brandon Hatanaka said, “but now that he’s here, the second half [of college] is a lot better.”

Based on what he’s seen so far this year and with only two regular-season meets left, Kremer said he’s excited about the Hatanakas and their future with the team.

“They’re both just great young men and great leaders,” Kremer said. “And they’re going to be great leaders for our team in the years to come.”

Though he only has a year and a half left with his older brother, Nick Hatanaka said he feels prepared for his future.

“He made it, so I will be comfortable … for the rest of my career,” Nick said. “I’m always going to be able to see him and talk to him no matter what, and he can do the same to me.

“We just have that special connection.”