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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Freshman goes the distance for Arizona swimming

Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / The Daily Wildcat Tyler Fowler swims freestyle against UNLV on Oct. 25 at home.

Eighteen-year-old Tyler Fowler is a long way from home.

The 5-foot-11 freshman swimmer from Liberty, Mo., picked up his Midwestern roots and moved out to Tucson this fall to test the waters, choosing the UA over Michigan.

“The joke is that one morning in February, I googled the temperatures in both places, and I decided Arizona,” Fowler said. “It was like -5 in Michigan, and that’s not for me.”

The weather wasn’t the only thing that sold the Missouri native on representing the Wildcats. As a devout swimmer, he said, being a member of the Arizona swim team that placed third in the NCAA Championships in 2013 sounded “pretty cool.”

Not to mention that he can call prominent UA swimmers like senior Matt Barber and juniors Kevin Cordes and Eric Solis teammates again after having swum with them on the NCSA Junior National Team.

Fowler admits that Barber, Cordes and Solis had some influence on his decision to come to Arizona, especially after he traveled to Ireland with them for a meet in his freshman year of high school.
“That’s kind of where the bond started,” Fowler said.

The bond was strong enough to lure Fowler (or Ty, as his teammates call him) into the desert — to go the distance, literally.

As a distance swimmer, Fowler, a 2012 Junior National Champion who boasted a time of 15:57.24 in the mile freestyle, will be expected to fill a gap in an otherwise competitive UA swim team.

“Ty is very easily motivated to race in practice and he always has a positive attitude and he always brings a lot to practice every day,” Barber said. “It’s good having a pure miler in our practice group.”

The Wildcats are known for their speed, and as the lone distance swimmer — aside from Barber, who competes in the 500-yard freestyle — Fowler has some ground to cover.

“The big thing for me in my distance racing is [that] I don’t have the speed, so to be in a speed program ensures that I’ll get some of that,” Fowler said. “I still get my distance training, too, and it’s good to have world-class coaches to help you work on the speed.”

His addition could help improve distance swimming for Arizona, and he will work with next year’s distance recruits to help the UA win another national championship.

His distance training thus far has landed him four years of competition in junior nationals meets, as well as an appearance at the June 2012 Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha, Neb.

For him, the Olympic trials were more of a learning experience than a competition. Battling back from health issues, Fowler said he approached his competition in Omaha as a time to learn from other swimmers and apply that knowledge to win a Junior National Championship in July of the same year.

“Coming into that meet, I wasn’t ready to go by any means, so I think that really helped me just enjoy it,” Fowler said. “I didn’t have to be worried about my place or my time.”

Fowler’s serious approach to swimming and dedication to practice caught Arizona’s eye. Interim head coach Rick DeMont said he has been impressed with Fowler’s work ethic and with how far the freshman has come since August.

“He is getting better every day,” DeMont said. “He showed up this summer pretty out of shape, but he is starting to get pretty fit. I really like how he approaches training and how seriously he approaches swimming. There’s going to be a good future for him.”

The Academic All-American from 2011-2013 combines his love for swimming with his knack for learning. He is a biomedical engineering major who hopes to go to medical school after graduating. Fowler said he is in school for the long haul.

He said he knows it’s possible. Alumni have accomplished the same thing he hopes to, and he said he plans to make use of their help through his academic and athletic career.

Fowler’s passion for swimming, his teammates and his education all come together in Arizona. He just had to travel 1,200 miles to make it work.

— Follow Nicole Cousins @cousinnicole

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