Husband and wife hall of fame swimmers find their passion at UA
When swimmer Whitney Myers came to the UA, she knew that she was in for a life changing experience, but she just had no idea to what extent things would change.
She not only found a co-ed swim team with a strong familial bond and a coach who cared equally for her as a person and as a swimmer, but her future husband as well, fellow swimmer Simon Burnett.
After a storied career, Myers was inducted into the UA Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 9, joining Burnett, who was inducted the year before.
Burnett enjoyed three individual NCAA titles in the 200 freestyle and represented Great Britain in Olympic competition three times. Former Arizona coach Frank Busch reminisced about their first encounter.
“Simon was a long distance recruit courtship,” Busch explained. “I almost missed out on him, but finally came to my senses and offered him a scholarship. Oh my goodness, he ended up being one of the most talented swimmers I have ever met.”
While attending Ursuline Academy in Cincinnati, Ohio, Myers earned a total of 11 state championships (eight individual, three relay).
She was a member of the USA Junior National Team in 2001 and appeared at her first Olympic trails in 2000 at the age of 15.
Myers continued to excel and in 2004 she came within 0.82 seconds of making the U.S. Olympic team. She went on to win two individual NCAA titles in the 200 intermediate medley, 200 freestyle and a national championship in the 800 freestyle relay.
While competing in 2004, Myers and Burnett met for the first time.
“I was dating his roommate, Lyndon Ferns [who was also a swimmer on the team and also a Hall of Famer],” Myers confessed. “The swim team had a term for dating other swimmers called ‘swim-cest’ because there are so many couples on the team. We often swam in lanes side-by-side or even in the same lane and honestly, it was really great dating someone who knew exactly what I was going through.”
In 2006, Myers set an American record in the 200 IM.
Myers continued to swim competitively, becoming professional in 2007 after winning another NCAA Championship and signing an endorsement deal with Nike. She competed at the World Championships, hoping that her extended taper would produce results reminiscent of 2006.
She said she was disappointed when she placed 4th in the 200 IM and narrowly missed medaling. In 2007, she was named NCAA Woman of the Year. Myers described that award as her proudest accomplishment.
“Burnett and Myers were both awesome,” Busch said. “Their athletic achievement speaks for themselves. They excelled on the biggest stages. They always performed well during the NCAA Championships and were successful later in their career when they represented their home countries in international competition.”
After a disappointing 2008 Olympic Trials, Myers decided to take a break and return to Ohio. The next fall Myers returned to Tucson after she spent spent six weeks traveling, racing in the World Cup circuit. She returned not only refreshed, but ready for a change of scenery.
Myers settled into life in Newport Beach, Calif. and began to train with FAST Swim Team Fullerton, a program that was created by USA Swimming as a post-graduate training program for professional swimmers.
Myers and Burnett both retired from competitive swimming last summer, after Myers placed 20th in her final race as a swimmer at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
“We finally live in a house without roommates and actually feel like normal adults,” Myers said. “We had a great relationship while we were swimming and we have a great relationship now. As long as the base of a relationship is strong, I think it will always be good.”