PROVO — For 37 years, BYU swim coach Tim Powers has put in 12-hour days — getting up at 5 a.m. and not getting home until 5 or even 6 at night. It will all come to an end following this, his final season.
Thirty-seven years is enough for Powers — who was first hired by BYU as its swim coach at the age of 29.
"Well, 37 years is a long time," he said. "I still have good energy to do it, but I just decided that it was time to move on to other things."
Over his years at BYU, Powers has seen a lot of success. His accomplishments include being named conference coach of the year six times while guiding the Cougars to 17 conference titles.
Along the way, his student-athletes have captured 46 All-America awards, 32 Academic All-America awards and swam in the finals of every major world competition. In addition, 16 of his swimmers competed in the Olympics for 10 different countries. In fact, Powers has had at least one athlete compete in every Olympics since 1972 (excluding the 1980 boycott by the U.S.).
For Powers, though, it's not the accomplishments he'll remember most.
"It's not the championships that I remember and it's not even some of the many great performances we've had here, but it's the men and the women — how great of people they are," he said. "I've thoroughly enjoyed them and I've tried my best to help them be as successful as they can, so that's what I'll miss most — just the kids — all of them."
One of his many "kids" is senior captain Daniel Bates, who doesn't refer to Powers as coach but simply as "Tim."
"The way he is — I guess it's just normal to call him 'Tim,' I've never really thought about it," said Bates. "That's one of the great things about him — you can just talk to him about anything. It's been such a blessing for me to have him help guide me through my years at BYU, and I know that all of my teammates feel the same. He's such a committed coach and someone that we'll all miss a lot."
Powers was first hired at BYU in 1975 as the coach of both the women's and men's swim teams. In 1981, he relinquished the coaching duties of the women's team, only to take it back on in 2008.
Over that time he's had the pleasure to work with many athletic directors, starting with Stan Watts and ending with current athletic director Tom Holmoe.
The 12-hour days he's put in for 37 years add up to quite a bit of work, and it's been "real work," according to Powers. Due to his nature and love for what he does, he said it hasn't seemed like work, however.
"I've been fortunate to have absolutely loved what I've done over the past 37 years," he said. "It hasn't been easy, but I've been extremely blessed to have stayed at BYU for such a long time doing something that I've thoroughly enjoyed doing."
Over his years, Powers has sent many of his athletes on LDS Church missions, and now it's his turn. He plans on serving a full-time mission with his wife, Patcee, shortly after the end of this season.
Leaving the program after such a long tenure as coach isn't an easy thing to do, but it's something Powers feels ready for. He still has the energy but wants to put forth that energy in the mission field.3 comments on this story
As he's set to leave, he couldn't be more grateful for every opportunity he's had over his 37 years.
"The thing that has been most exciting for me is to see these kids go on and graduate and become good moms and dads," he said. "We've been able to get a lot of trophies and championships, but the bottom line is that we think we're helping young men and women be the best they can be. I couldn't be more grateful to BYU, the administration, but most of all for all the great kids who have passed through our program over the years. I love all of them."