Rahiti De Vos of the University of Utah men’s swimming and diving team has showed no signs of uncertainty in his quest to bring the program to new heights, despite being far away from home. His journey first began in Europe.
“I come from Tahiti, a small island, and swimming is not really big, so obviously I had to compete in France for the nationals and the big meets in France,” De Vos said. “And then I moved to France to swim. I did many junior international meets.”
De Vos’ international career featured many highlights, including taking gold in the 400 and 1500 yard freestyle events at the Pacific Games, and he also won a junior French championship in the 400 yard freestyle event.
After conquering international competition in France, De Vos wanted a new challenge. He knew that coming to the United States would offer him a chance to accomplish that.
“I always wanted to come to the U.S., and I was in contact with many universities,” De Vos said. “I talked to Joe [Dykstra] and things just went [to the point] that I chose Utah.”
De Vos saw Utah as the right fit for him to reach new goals, and although his freshman campaign was cut short due to an injury, the coaching staff knew he would be a plus for Utah when able to return to the pool.
“He’s a very talented swimmer. I would describe him as exceptionally talented, very physically gifted,” Dykstra said.
Despite his talent, he has had obstacles he has had to overcome in order to show what he can do. The biggest challenge that De Vos has been adjusting to while being overseas is the difference in how meets are schedule in France compared to the Pac-12.
“In France it was less meets, maybe like 3 or 4 during the season,” De Vos said. “And so you obviously get more ready for those meets and one more really important meet after the season.”
While international success came quickly for De Vos, it has taken him longer to get going in the Pac-12. After the injury last season, he has come out ready to compete this year. Fully healthy and locked in, his results are proof that he has worked to get to where he is. He finished less than a second behind first place in the 200 yard freestyle event against Cal, who was ranked No. 1 at the time, during the team’s conference opening meet this season. He followed that performance up with an impressive showing against Stanford the following weekend with a 4:38.23 time in the 500 yard freestyle event.
“Now that I’ve experienced it, I know what my goals are this year,” De Vos said. “Last year it was just like discovery, and this year I know what I want to do. So definitely this year I’m more motivated to go beat those pac-12 teams.”
Dykstra sees this newfound level of comfort and motivation in De Vos, and he believes big things are in store for the sophomore.
“This year he’s starting at a much higher level than last year, really starting to figure out some of those race skills, race planning, just understanding swimming at a higher level,” Dykstra said. “I think that’s going to translate into a really big season for him.”