A familiar face has returned this year for the Ball State men’s swimming and diving team.  

Tanner Barton, who graduated in May 2017, decided to help out with the men’s swimming and diving team, while pursuing a master’s degree in Kinesiology. Barton said he was actively pursuing other men’s swimming and diving graduate assistant positions, but this one stood out to him. 

“When coach Thomas informed me of this position, I was instantly interested,” Barton said. “It's always an honor to come back and work at your alma mater.” 

Last season, Barton reached the Mid-American Conference Championships finals in both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly events. In the 100-yard butterfly, Barton swam recorded a 50.30, which is the second-best time on the team. In the 2015 MAC Championships, his time of 1:50.09 in the 200-yard butterfly ranks second in program history. 

Outside of the pool, Barton has received more than $12,500 in postgraduate scholarships since graduating in 2017. Barton was also a spokesperson for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

Since 2003, the men’s swimming and diving program hasn’t had a graduate assistant due to the downsizing of the team and lack of funds. Head coach Bob Thomas said the first person that he wanted to be an assistant was Barton. 

“Barton is an outstanding individual, he relates really well to people and I thought he would be the best candidate,” Thomas said. “I didn’t have to go looking outside of the pool for an assistant.” 

This season, Barton will help out with recruiting, which he wasn't able to do as an active swimmer on the team.

“I really look forward to working with the office of compliance to plan these official recruiting trips for prospective swimmers and divers,” Barton said. 

Sophomore Chase Jackson was excited to hear the news that Barton was coming back to help with the team. 

“It’s a great move forward for the team,” Jackson said. “Tanner is the perfect man for the job. Personally, he has already given me advice that has helped me with my swimming."

Barton has also already aided Jackson in the summer concerning his performance in the pool.

Senior Banistre Lienhart, who swam with Barton for three years at Ball State, said it has been instrumental to have Barton back. 

“He is the great relay point between me and coach,” Lienhart said. “A lot of times, Thomas doesn’t always get everything straight and he just forgets about a couple minor details.” 

Earlier in the season, Barton gave Lienhart some suggestions about his hand position for his sprinting. 

“He suggested for me to use paddles and other equipment to help work on the entry of my hand and forearm into the water,” Lienhart said. “I think it has helped a lot.” 

This season, Thomas said he is thankful for the assistance that the graduate assistant position gives him.

“I think the athletes will benefit the most to having the additional attention given to them,” Thomas said. “I can only do so much.” 

With the additional help, Thomas said he not only will see the improvement of this year’s team, but also will have the opportunity to recruit more talent in the future. 

Tanner’s first home meet as a graduate assistant will be on Nov. 11 against Tiffin. The meet starts at 1 p.m.

Contact Patrick Murphy with comments at prmurphy2@bsu.edu.