Thomas Nguyen Makes a “Splash” in Bachelorette Season 21 Debut

When retired swimmers appear on reality television shows, there are moments when they….embellish….their athletic achievements for the sake of clout and ratings.

But when former Vietnamese-American swimmer Thomas Nguyen made his debut on dating show The Bachelorette on Monday, there was an honest and accurate description of his achievements, making him both real and relatable: two of the most important (and cliche) qualities of a reality television hero.

While the show’s producers have already leaned hard into the swimming puns, bachelorette Jenn Tran has already made it clear that she loves a good pun, so Nguyen is already in a middle lane after one episode.

In his introductory videos, Nguyen says that he was an “Olympic hopeful” before tearing his rotator cuff, which is an accurate description of his career given that Vietnam usually relies on universality selection for their men’s entrants in swimming into the Olympics.

He would have needed to drop about two seconds in the 200 backstroke, for example, to earn serious consideration for Vietnam’s male Olympic slot in 2016, based on FINA points. His lifetime best was 2:02.55.

Nguyen’s last meet was the 2015 US Winter National Championships, where he finished 32nd in the 100 meter back (57.21) and 24th in the 200 meter back (2:07.17).

Watch Nguyen Meet The Bachelorette:

Background on Nguyen from Anya Pelshaw:

Nguyen is one of 25 men vying for the heart of Jenn Tran on Season 21 of “The Bachelorette.” Nguyen swam collegiately at Division II Florida Southern College before spending time as a professional swimmer. He then got into coaching as he coached at SwimAtlanta.

Nguyen will be known as “Thomas N.” on the show. The season premieres on July 8th on ABC. The 31-year-old is right in the middle of Tran’s contestants as the age ranges from 24 to 35. Tran is 26.

Nguyen spent his collegiate career with Division II Florida Southern College. He made the Division II NCAA Championships as a sophomore, junior, and senior. He made his first ‘A’ final as a junior as he finished 7th in the 200 backstroke (1:48.17). His senior season, he was the NCAA runner-up in the 200 back in a 1:44.42. He also finished 8th in the 100 back in a 48.28.

He continued to stay in the sport as he competed as a professional athlete representing Vietnam. He coached and swam under SwimAtlanta, swimming at US Summer and Winter Nationals in 2014 and 2015. His most recent competition came in 2017 when he swam on an all-coaches relay at the Georgia Long Course Senior State meet.

Since stepping away from the pool deck, Nguyen now works as a retirement advisor. According to his bio, “When he isn’t working, he enjoys swimming, watching “Guy’s Grocery Games” on the Food Network, and spending time on a boat with his friends.” He also listed being a former professional swimmer as one of his fun facts.

He notably is not the first former swimmer to appear on the show as Connor Saeli was a contestant on the show back in 2019. In addition, Florida State All-American Robby Hayes appeared on the show in 2016, where he was the runner-up.

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8 days ago

He is the second Swim Atlanta alum to be on the show since Robby Hayes also swam at Swim Atlanta but at a different location. Another fun connection is that Thomas’s older brother Danny swam at FSU with Robby.

8 days ago

A lot of us are Olympic hopefuls by that metric.

Reply to  IRO
8 days ago

So the average Swimswam commenter can go 2:07 in a 200 back? Really impressive if so

Chlorine son
Reply to  IRO
8 days ago

??? By that metric he was a 2:02 200 backstroker and it said he’s 2 seconds off being considered. In the US this year it took 1:54 to qualify for the team. If we take that same 2 seconds he was away from potentially qualifying that’s a 1:56 200 backstroker which most people would definitely qualify as an Olympic hopeful.

Reply to  IRO
8 days ago

He was reasonably close to representing Vietnam in the Olympics. I’d classify that as being an “Olympic hopeful”

8 days ago

vietnam has an A cut for men’s swimming now

Reply to  swim
8 days ago

so no more universality spot for them

Beetle juice
8 days ago

The bachelor should really embrace its feral nature and allow the contestants to don suits of colorful plumage and perform elaborate, crow-footed dances in front of the Bachelorette while squawking at the top of theur lungs.

River Seine
Reply to  Beetle juice
8 days ago

I’d watch that.

8 days ago


8 days ago


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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