By Jeff Commings
BERKELEY, California, August 22. TYLER Messerschmidt, who had to sit out the spring semester at the University of California-Berkeley to improve his grades, learned today that he is academically eligible to fully participate in the 2013-2014 college swimming season.
“It made my day this morning when (head men’s swimming coach) Dave (Durden) called me and said, ‘Guess what?’” Messerschmidt said. “I had to put a bunch of faith into Dave, and I’m glad it all worked out.”
Messerschmidt was originally planning to sit out at least the spring 2013 and fall 2013 semesters, but he appealed to sit out only the spring semester and take two summer courses in Berkeley with the hopes that he would post better grades and improve his grade point average. The university granted his appeal, and Messerschmidt was admitted for summer courses in Classics and Art. With a grade of B in both classes, Messerschmidt’s GPA was once again back on par.
Messerschmidt returned to Berkeley last May to take those classes after spending the late winter and early spring in his hometown of Phoenix to refocus mentally and re-examine his perspective on being a Golden Bear. During his time in Phoenix, he trained at the Scottsdale Aquatic Club with Bob Platt, one of the coaches who had guided Messerschmidt to prominence as a high school athlete.
Though he was unable to compete at the NCAA championships last March, Messerschmidt didn’t let a season’s worth of training go to waste. His times of 19.25 in the 50 free and 42.11 in the 100 free at the USA Swimming sectional championships would have placed in the top four at the NCAA championships a couple of weeks later.
Messerschmidt did not compete this summer, putting a full focus on his studies. He will be ready to swim with his teammates when official workouts begin next week, as has stayed in shape with plenty of dryland work. But he said “swimming was never a worry for me (this summer), and not just because I thought I could get back on top. If I hadn’t gone through this, I would still be sneaking by and just getting through school. This was the biggest blessing in disguise.”
When he arrived on campus in 2011, Messerschmidt said he didn’t feel like he belonged there. Despite being highly recruited, the sight of some of the best swimmers in the world made him feel ill at ease. He managed to still swim well in his freshman year, participating in the winning 200 freestyle relay, as well as placing in the top eight in the 100 free at the 2012 NCAAs.
“Growing up, (I was) thrust into the forefront of Arizona swimming, and with that comes a lot of immaturity,” he said. “A couple of years here, I felt so out of place training with Nathan Adrian and Graeme Moore and Anthony Ervin. Now, it feels like I’m ready to be here.”
Messerschmidt knows he didn’t get to this point alone. To list the names of all the people who helped him would be lengthy, and one could sense the emotion Messerschmidt was feeling just thinking about the long road he traveled to reinstatement.
“It’s time to repay the people who helped me along the way,” he said. “This next year, I’m doing this for them, because I wouldn’t be here without them.”
I am now officially a Golden Bear! Thank you everyone who has kept faith in me. This year is dedicated to you. #gobears– Tyler Messerschmidt (@TMessy) August 22, 2013