University of Arizona Swimmer Ty Wells Dies At 23 (UPDATED)

University of Arizona swimmer Ty Wells died on Friday, January 27. He was 23 years old.

Update: On Feb. 3, the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office issued a release determining that Wells died of “natural causes secondary to a disseminated streptococcal bacterial infection following a protracted upper respiratory tract infection” after postmortem examination.

Editor’s Note: rumors and news reports have circulated that Wells died from a motorcycle crash. That is not true, and may have stemmed from an individual with the same name being involved in a serious motorcycle crash in California in 2022.

The school confirmed the news and provided the following statement on their loss:

“On behalf of the entire University of Arizona community, I want to extend our heartfelt condolences to the Wells family along with Ty’s friends, teammates, classmates and colleagues,” said Arizona Vice President and Director of Athletics Dave Heeke.

“Ty was a tremendous young man who proudly represented the University of Arizona in the pool, classroom and community. He was a light that shined bright in the lives of everyone he came across, and we will keep him and his loved ones in our thoughts during this incredibly difficult time.”


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A GoFundMe page started to help cover funeral expenses has raised $67,450 as of Feb. 3.

From the GoFundMe page:

Our Arizona Wildcat swimming family was devastated at the sudden passing of one of our most adored swimmers this past Friday. He was a guiding light to all of his friends and teammates as well as to all of us parents.

He brought out the best in all of us and cared so deeply for all of his friends. His spirit was contagious, his smile lit up a room and he was a big brother to so many.

We are grateful for anything to help his family, Mom and Dad, Sandy and Joe Wells and their daughter Jessica, get thru this difficult time without having to do anything but grieve and cherish the times they had with their beautiful son Ty.

He was an incredible young man who left his mark on all of us. He will be remembered by all of us with love in our hearts, FOREVER!! We are all better for knowing this beautiful young man.

Wells was in his fifth year on the team at Arizona and was majoring in physiology with plans to pursue a career in physical therapy or sports medicine.

A native of Ripon, California, Wells was a 2021-2022 CSCAA Scholar All-American. Last season, Wells finished 12th in the 100 breaststroke at the Pac-12 Championship meet.

While his only NCAA meet of the fall semester was Arizona’s intrasquad, his last competition was the 2022 US Open Championships, where he finished in 50th place in both the 100 breast and 200 breast.

As a senior at Ripon High School in 2018, he qualified for the California High School State Championship meet, where he finished 13th in the 100 yard breaststroke.

Update: Wells’ home club, Ripon Aquatics, emailed their team on Monday about the death. This is what they had to say about Wells:

As many of you may have heard by now, our team family lost a beloved friend with the passing of Ty Wells on Friday morning.

It is impossible to articulate in a short letter the impact Ty Wells had on our community. I trust as we grieve, celebrate, and remember Ty, he will be properly honored.

Over the past few days, I’ve heard him described as an “angel on earth,” “the brightest smile in the room,” “the warmest hug I’ve ever been given,” and “the best version of all of us.” For me…I have seen few people love so fiercely, consistently, and unapologetically the way Ty did as a friend, brother, son, and teammate.

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1 year ago

fly r.i.p.

Jonathan Heimberg
1 year ago

I am very saddened to learn of the passing of this promising young athlete.
My sincere condolences to Ty Wells family, school, teammates, friends, and community.
RIP. You are in our hearts.

1 year ago

So sad. 😢

1 year ago

Heart goes out to Ty’s family and to all the Wild Cat swimmers and staff. Here’s hoping you can honour him with your performance and conduct over the rest of the season…..

Mike Jones
1 year ago

Can someone translate the cause into layman’s terms

Reply to  Mike Jones
1 year ago

He died from strep… sounds like pulmonary/breathing issues due to either prolonged or an aggressive strep infection. Strep has been pretty bad this year especially in the pediatric population but can also affect college students due to clustered living and social patterns.

Reply to  Mike Jones
1 year ago


This means that the cause of death was determined to be from a bacterial infection caused by streptococcus bacteria that spread throughout the body, following a long-term upper respiratory tract infection, as determined through a post-mortem examination.

Reply to  Xman
1 year ago

Sepsis? Why wouldn’t they say sepsis? It can happen so fast! My daughter just had a terrible finger infection for a week and a half. It required an ER visit and aggressive antibiotics.

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Or Scarlet Fever?

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Prior to release of cause there was speculation it was meningitis and he did not go to a doc according to friends

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

Sepsis is a vague medical term that covers a range of infections. The cause of death is specific and concrete as is required legally when an autopsy is performed.

Reply to  Anonymous
1 year ago

It’s a coroner’s report, that’s why. He had a strep infection that spread. Where are you getting sepsis?

Reply to  Mike Jones
1 year ago

Sounds like he had a respiratory infection and then got strep on top of the original infection.

Reply to  Swammer11
1 year ago

It started with the strep. Strep A can spread to the lungs as well as the kidneys and the blood.

1 year ago

Thank you for setting the record straight.

1 year ago

PAC12 requirement

Reply to  Dobbie
1 year ago

Good place to start an investigation…

robert kravutske
1 year ago

it hurts us all but keep him alive in your thoughts and conversation……

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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