Soka University Swimmer Thomas “Wyatt” Balman Dies At 20

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.”

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9 months ago

wow. gone so soon. rest in peace wyatt you will be missed forever.

9 months ago

So sad, sounds like he was an amazing person. My condolences go out to his family and friends.

9 months ago

Wyatt was truly a wonderful teammate and a huge part of our small Soka team. He was such an amazing soul and would immediately light up any room he walked into. His dedication and work ethic were unmatched by anyone I know and it was truly a pleasure to practice and compete with him. He truly lived his live according to his Instagram bio “Doin the best with the time I have” and anyone who knew Wyatt knew that is exactly how he lived his life. We will miss you Wyatt, thank you for the constant laughs and the memories

9 months ago

This is tragic and awful. How does an experienced swimmer die in an aquatic center? Was there some sort of prank or contest going on? Aren’t there always lifeguards?

Reply to  HeadTimer
9 months ago

Sounds fishy

Reply to  HeadTimer
9 months ago

I don’t know the circumstances, but quite a few experienced swimmers have died when doing hypoxic (underwater) training without proper supervision. It’s called a shallow water blackout, and basically the swimmer passes out after holding their breath for too long, then the bodies first reaction is to inhale, which causes a drowning. You can find a more accurate description online. Again, I don’t know if that’s what happened here. I just wanted to share how this is possible, even for experienced swimmers.

Reply to  QMagoo
9 months ago

That was my first thought.

Reply to  QMagoo
9 months ago

Thank you for the insight. I wonder if they officially release any more information if this is how it happened.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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