Oct. 22, 2010
By Jon Cooper
What to choose — swimming or football?
The choice is not the usual either/or proposition for most young athletes.
It wasn’t for Georgia Tech sophomore Bo Hatchett either, as, until he got to college, he avoided deciding by simply doing both.
“I’ve always been told it was an odd combination, but I enjoyed both of them so I tried to do my best in both,” said the Demorest, Ga., native, who hopes to make his collegiate swimming debut Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center when Georgia Tech opens its 2010-11 season in a tri-meet against Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. The meet is scheduled to begin at 1:00.
In high school, at Habersham Central, Hatchett pulled off the juggling act with aplomb, as he was all-state and MVP of the swim team, where he was a sprinter, and the football team, as quarterback.
He was recruited by then-Georgia Tech Swimming Coach Stuart Wilson but chose to play football and went to Presbyterian College. He attended the Clinton, S.C., school for two years, and, since they had no swim team, had no trouble focusing solely on the gridiron.
But after two years of not seeing the pool while also seeing little of the football field — he’d redshirted as a freshman, then saw action in one game as a redshirt freshman — Hatchett felt like a fish out of water.
That’s not surprising, as swimming always came naturally. Bo was born in Florida with a pool in the back of the condo where he was raised. His desire to swim and to compete was inspired by his father.
“My dad always did triathlons and I always wanted to compete,” he recalled. “I joined the swim team when I was seven but I’ve been swimming since I was a baby.”
While swimming may have been second nature to him, Bo admitted it took time to find his sea legs again.
“It was pretty hard coming back to swimming after you train for football for so long because they’re completely different,” he said. “In high school it was always easier for me to go from swimming season to football than it was to go from football to swimming because football was more anaerobic and swimming is more aerobic.”
At Georgia Tech, Hatchett, a Biology major, honed in on swimming. D-I football was never an option.
“I couldn’t run the offense they run here,” he said, with a laugh. “I was a spread quarterback. I’m not as fast as Joshua Nesbitt. I can throw but not run.”
Maybe Hatchett can’t run, but he can sprint. He’s hoping to do the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke for Tech, and while he’s working harder than he’d ever imagined, he’s enjoying the camaraderie and competitive spirit of his Yellow Jackets teammates.
“Everyone here is fast and everyone competes,” he said. “It’s a good environment to be in because I like watching people compete. [Junior] Nigel Plummer and [senior] Garrett Robberson feed off each other and race in practice. You see people matching up and racing. That’s something that I haven’t been around as far as a swim practice goes and I really enjoy it.
“I’m excited [about Saturday]. I think everyone is,” he added. “I think everyone has the butterflies a little bit. It’s the first competition of the year. But once they announce the lineups we’ll be able to zone in a little more and figure out exactly what to expect.”