A for Athlete


  • Swimming coach at BYU as of 2009 since 1975
  • trained many Olympic athletes.


Coach uses Powers to guide BYU swimmers[]

By Brandon Garrett - 7 Apr 2009 [1]

In 1975, the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandals were under investigation, and Microsoft was founded.

Many things have changed over those 34 years, but at least one thing at BYU is the same: coach Tim Powers.

Powers, who is the swimming and diving head coach, was hired at BYU that same year.

“I was coaching in California at the time,” Powers said. “I was coaching a swimmer who was deciding where to go for college and I told him he might want to check out BYU. When I called the university they mentioned that there was a position open and I told them I wanted to throw my hat into the ring.”

Powers had actually turned down a scholarship as an athlete from BYU when he was in college.

“I decided to go to the University of Montana,” Powers said. “I didn’t want to come to BYU because I said, ‘Oh, the Mormons will just try and convert me.’ I ended up going to Montana and getting converted there.”

After becoming coach at BYU, he started to change things around.

“In my first year we ended up beating Utah,” he recalled. “We hadn’t done that in five years.”

Powers has a great ability to bring fire and motivation to athletes by bringing passion into everything he does.

Powers’ tenure as coach at BYU has taken him to many diverse and exciting places.

“We’ve had Olympians from 16 countries,” Powers said. “Sometimes I get to travel with them. One time I got to travel to the Commonwealth Games, and while I was there, I got invited to eat with the Queen of England. It was almost a fantasy.”

When Powers talks about his best memories from the past 34 years, he doesn’t refer to titles and championships. He thinks back to the swimmers and students he’s had the opportunity to get to know.

“It’s what those kids go on to do after they swim that gets me excited,” Powers said. “What kind of citizens will they become after they leave here­ — how they do as moms and dads.”

For example, one of Powers’ favorite memories is of Rob Morris. During recruiting, he was giving Morris a tour of BYU campus with his father when he mentioned that there was a possibility that if his son came to BYU that he might become a member of the Church. According to Powers, his father just smiled and said, “From what I’ve seen here … that might be OK.”

Over the years, Powers has had the opportunity to be a part of the conversions of a number of his athletes.

Ron Menezes, a former BYU swimmer and 1984 Olympian, was one of those.

“He was the one that confirmed me,” Menezes said. “He was a father-figure to me. When I came to BYU, I was an 18-year-old and alone; he watched over me. He would always bring up the right things that I needed to hear. Even when I made mistakes outside of the pool, he wouldn’t yell at me or make me feel bad, he would just tell me how things were.”

That is part of Powers’ style and it seems to work.

“Losing can be just as important as winning,” Powers said. “You have to see if you’ll pick yourself up and get yourself back on track.”

His office is plastered with trophies and All-American plaques garnished by his former swimmers. There is almost no more room to place new ones.

“I think of BYU as an experiment in Zion,” he said. “Here some of the best and brightest of different disciplines come together and we see what we can accomplish.”

Due in part to his success, Powers has had the opportunity to be involved on a national level. He has been on the NCAA committee. He has also served on the executive board and as the board director, helping to establish and maintain rules for the NCAA.

Powers has even been asked to write some papers for national publications. For example, in 2003, Powers wrote an opinion piece on Title IX for the National Review.

Over the years, many things might have changed in the world, but swimming and diving at BYU has stayed pretty constant.

“If you’re still connecting with the kids and getting excited about the discoveries in the sport-- staying on the cutting edge-- and it excites you, then you keep coaching," he said. "As long as I'm enjoying it, I'll keep coaching, and I'm still enjoying it."