Tucker Hathaway, who has been swimming since the seventh grade, really started the sport because he wanted to run a triathlon just like he’d seen his mother, Cindy Hathaway, doing countless times.
Tucker had been biking and running since the third grade, but Cindy insisted that he had to participate on the swim team in order to improve his swim speed before doing a triathlon. Tucker agreed, joined the team, then ran his first triathlon, the Sand Hollow Triathlon (sprint length), at age fourteen. Coming in at second place in his age group was a great achievement for his first race, especially considering he lost to an eighteen year old.
Tucker’s been hooked on swimming and racing ever since. He explains, “I like that it’s an individual sport, so you aren’t relying on others. If you do bad, you aren’t bringing the team done.” The swim season starts in October and ends with state in February. Swimmers from Dixie and Snow Canyon practice together at the Sand Hollow Aquatic Center Monday through Friday under the direction of Head Coach Tamara Lemmon. A typical practice includes swimming 4,000 yards focusing on one stroke a day, freestyle being the most common. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, yoga or strength training are included to help round out the strength and flexibility of the athletes. Fellow teammate, Porter Stevens, says, “Tucker is always willing to talk and help anyone trying to become better. He respects the sport, and everyone in the game.”
Tucker’s respect for the sport extends outside of the pool as well. Coach Lemmon explains, “What makes Tucker unique in our sport is his dedication to athletic performance that extends beyond just what he does in the swimming pool. Tucker has a great understanding of what it takes to be an elite athlete: nutrition, hard work, technique, and mental toughness.”
In high school, swimmers are able to compete in two regular events and two relays. Tucker typically races distance freestyle (200 and 500 yards) while sometimes swimming the 100 freestyle and 100 fly. The 4×50 and 4×100 freestyle relays round out his day of competition. Tucker has qualified for state every year since he began competing on the Dixie High Swim Team. Last year at state, Tucker took 4th in the 200 yard freestyle and 5th in 500 yard freestyle races creating one of his most memorable swimming moments.
For the 200 yard freestyle bracket, Tucker was seeded in 8th place meaning that he was the slowest in his heat. He wanted to get at least 6th place to be able to stand on the podium and medal. As the race began, Tucker saw that he was behind the kid beside him. Knowing that he needed to be faster, he picked up the pace. When Tucker flipped on the wall for the last return lap, he realized that he was a body length in front of his competition, so he sprinted the last 75 yards coming in 4th place. Tucker was the only Dixie swimmer to podium at state, dropping 5 seconds off his personal region record.
Swimming is only one part of Tucker’s real love… triathlons! Racing with Balanced Arts Multisport (BAM) coached by Wes Johnson has brought Tucker much success. Qualifying for World Championships two years in a row, going to Junior Elite League Nationals three years in a row, and being in the Top 18 in the US ages 15-19 is no small feat. This nationally ranked triathlete is certainly making his mark in the racing world. Coach Wes Johnson had this to say, “Tucker Hathaway is an amazing athlete and person. He is one of the most consistent athletes I have ever coached. Some athletes are always great in training but fail on race day. They either get too nervous or just don’t have the confidence they need, but Tucker’s races are always either really good or amazing.”
Swim team practices from October through February, but this self-driven athlete trains year round for the triathlon season, which goes from March to August. Triathlon training, especially during swim season, consists of three workouts per day. Tucker usually runs or bikes in the morning then goes to swim team after school. He finishes up his workouts with biking, running, or strength training after swim practice.
Tri-coach Wes Johnson confirms, “Tucker’s challenge is that most of his triathlon team lives in Salt Lake, so he has to have an incredible amount of inner drive to do the workouts on his own, which can be lonely at times.” Tucker’s mother is also impressed with his dedication and drive. “As much as he trains on his own, most teenagers wouldn’t follow through and do it consistently every day.” Although extremely dedicated, working out alone does take it’s toll on Tucker at times. “I haven’t had injuries, but I have dealt with burnout. Luckily, when it gets bad, triathlon season starts and training with a team helps my motivation.”
Tucker hopes that his teammates will remember him as being calm under pressure and always pushing to be faster. He explains, “I’ve never had the fear of competing or pressure. It doesn’t weigh me down or make me panic.” Teammate Porter Stevens looks up to Tucker because he “is an excellent example of hard work and sportsmanship. He works hard in the pool and in school. He really knows how to set goals and work to achieve them. Through doing his triathlons and making it to nationals and just making his goals a reality in the pool.”
Setting goals and pushing harder have also helped Tucker in school. His swim coach, Tamara Lemmon explains, “The discipline Tuckers shows in the pool obviously carries over to his studies as well. He is a 4.0 student who will likely receive several offers for academic scholarships.” Although he trains for hours each day, Tucker still maintains a perfect GPA. “Before sports, I was used to hanging out with people, which made me not want to do my homework. With sports, I get into a rhythm… sports, homework, and bed.” He maintains that he still has fun with friends.
Tucker will definitely go to college. He’ll also train for fun but probably not as rigorously as he does now because he’d like to focus on academics. Leaning towards Utah State, he’s also applied to Southern Utah University and the University of Utah. With a 4.0 GPA and ACT score of 32, he’s hoping to get a scholarship to major in either math or physics. His love of space causes astrophysics to be his biggest interest.
Whatever the future holds, there is no doubt that Tucker is very determined, hardworking, and unique. His mother, Cindy concludes, “Tucker’s self-confidence and the way he carries himself are his best qualities. He has a certain maturity that many others lack. He’s an amazing kid. We are incredibly proud of him for all that he has done and how hard he has worked. He has big goals that he is accomplishing!” • HSSI