Tye Dutcher celebrates winning gold at the Parapan American Games Lima 2019 on Aug. 27, 2019 in Lima, Peru.
Tye Dutcher has always loved the pool.
At age eleven, Dutcher was involved in a lawn mower accident. As a result, he lost his right foot, two inches above the ankle, but was determined to get back into the water.
"After my accident, my entire goal was to beat the kids with all their limbs,” said Dutcher. “That’s what I wanted to do.”
In high school, Dutcher was on both the swimming and water polo teams. A California native, Dutcher made it to state championships in both sports competing alongside able-bodied athletes, which caught the attention of many.
“An article was written about me in the Seattle Times,” said Dutcher. “Through that article a former Paralympic coach messaged my [high school swim] coach about having me come to the training center in Colorado Springs.”
A week after he graduated high school, Dutcher hopped on a flight to the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and hasn’t looked back.
“Since then, I’ve dedicated my life to swimming and learning what the sport is all about,” said Dutcher.
At 19, Dutcher made the 2016 U.S. Paralympic Roster for Rio, and attended his first Games.
“Rio was great,” said Dutcher. “It was definitely my fault I didn’t medal because of lack of preparation. I had only trained for a year before I made Rio, which is just insane.”
But this time around, Dutcher has a whole new approach.
“To get that Games experience under my belt and world championships the next year, it’s helped fuel the flame.”
At his first Parapan American Games, Dutcher won gold in the 100-meter backstroke S10 and bronze in the 50-meter freestyle S10.
Paralympic swimming includes three impairment groups - physical, intellectual and visual impairments. Within each group are the sport classes. There are ten different sport classes for athletes with a physical impairment, numbered 1-10. The lower the number, the more severe the activity limitation.
Athletes such as Dutcher with an S/SM10 classification have the mildest physical impairments, but still meet the minimum requirement for competition in the Paralympic Games.
“We are a really fast class and I’m blessed to be a part of it because it makes me train really hard so I can try to beat those guys.”
Now as one of the Team USA’s strongest Para swimmers, Dutcher is making his presence known. Because when Tye Dutcher dives into the pool, it’s game on.