An Olympian among Sun Devils

She stands by the pool with a warm smile on her face. She’s decked out in Arizona State University gear- her visor, shirt and shorts all have pitchforks on them.

The only thing lacking a pitchfork is the Olympic rings necklace that delicately hangs around her neck.

Misty Hyman, an Arizona native and Olympic gold medalist swimmer, has been hired as ASU’s new senior assistant swim coach.

“It’s just a very unique and special opportunity to coach at my hometown university,” Hyman says.

Hyman says she got her start in swimming because of a doctor’s recommendation. She had asthma as a child and a doctor recommended swimming as therapy for it. Her mission to combat asthma turned into a passion that would lead her to swim at Stanford University and to win a gold medal in women’s 200-meter butterfly at the 2000 Summer Olympics.

It’s been 15 years since Hyman won the gold medal and while she doesn’t replay her medal-winning moment in her head every day, she still appreciates how it has affected her life.

“What’s wonderful about it is it continues to have a positive impact on my life, in terms of the opportunities I have, and really the opportunities I have to positively influence other people,” Hyman says.

The newest impact swimming has had on her life is her newfound coaching position.

Hyman will be coaching alongside ASU head swim coach Bob Bowman, associate head coach Ryan Mallam and assistant coach Dan Kesler.

Kesler is excited to have Hyman joining the swim coaching staff.

“I think she brings a wealth of experience, not only at the collegiate level but also the international level,” Kesler says. “She is well respected in swimming, not only here locally but nationally and internationally. Misty Hyman is a name that the swimming world knows very well.”

Even though the swim season hasn’t started yet, senior freestyle swimmer Jamie Friderichs already sees an impact from Hyman’s attitude.

“She definitely brings a positive energy to the deck,” Friderichs says. “She’s so bubbly and always so happy, and just so happy to be here.” Kesler also remarked on how great it is to work with Misty.

“I think that her energy, her knowledge, her skill, her love of the sport, her passion for the kids to do their best, it’s pretty remarkable and I don’t see too many people in this sport or in coaching that have that drive that she does,” Kesler says.

Hyman has recently joined the team and says she’s already looking forward to its future.

“We’ve got a lot of great swimmers and we’re establishing a foundation, the foundation we want to build on for the future,” Hyman says. “We have big goals in the future but right now we’re just focused on the process and making everybody as good as they can be.”

Hyman says that what she is looking forward to most this season, is not the swim meets or winning, but really getting to know the swimmers. 

“I think that coaching is really a two-way street, it’s a dialogue and so having that ongoing conversation with the swimmers each day about their swimming and as we work towards our goals together, that’s what I’m really looking forward to,” Hyman says.

With all of the amazing things that have happened to Hyman, she still manages to stay humble and grateful.

“There’s something wonderful about being able to do your very best at something, whatever that is for you, and I get so much joy out of being a coach and being able to share what I learned through swimming and a lot of the gifts that swimming gave me,” Hyman says.

Hyman is a great addition to ASU swim’s coaching staff and although Hyman swam for and graduated from Stanford, Friderichs says she still considers her to be an honorary Sun Devil.

“Anyone that’s here at ASU is definitely a Sun Devil no matter where they came from,” Friderichs says.

Just looking at Misty Hyman, anyone can see that she is proud to be a Sun Devil as she uses her experience to coach the ASU team, head-to-toe in pitchfork gear. 

Reach the reporter at Lindsay.Hahn@asu.edu or via Twitter at @lindsay_hahn


Get the best of State Press delivered straight to your inbox.