Soka University of America swimmer Thomas “Wyatt” Balman died on Tuesday, Oct.13 at the age of 20. The school announced the death of the junior on Wednesday, Oct.14.
According to reports, Balman died at the Wamego Aquatic Center in Wamego, Kansas from an apparent drowning. Per WIBW, Pottawatomie County EMS responded to a possible drowning Tuesday evening, and Balman was taken to the Wamego Community Health Center.
Born in Houston, Texas, Balman graduated from Manhattan High School in 2018, and then moved on to Soka where he completed two years competing for the Lions.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of Wyatt’s passing,” said Director of Athletics Michael Moore. “He was a talented and caring young person who has been tragically taken from us, and this is a heartbreaking loss to our Soka family. Wyatt was a sincere and engaging young man with an infectious smile. His outgoing personality and contagious enthusiasm radiated throughout campus. He loved his academic studies at Soka and embodied the exceptional spirit of being a student-athlete at our university. This is a tragedy, and our sincere condolences go out to his family, teammates, fellow student-athletes, and our entire Soka community.”
President Edward Feasel released the following statement on Wednesday.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of Soka University of America student Thomas ‘Wyatt’ Balman, a member of the class of 2022. Wyatt loved swimming and also coaching youth, which is what he was doing when he passed away. His parents have shared with our Dean of Students that Wyatt loved SUA so much and often spoke fondly of his time with SUA students, staff, and faculty. Our campus community mourns this tragic loss.
On behalf of the university, I express our heartfelt sympathy to Wyatt’s family during this very difficult time. Wyatt and his family are in the thoughts and prayers of our Soka Community.
Nothing can prepare us for the sudden loss of a friend or loved one. Let us as a community support one another as we keep the cherished memory of Wyatt in our hearts.”