Recent Madison High School graduate and Voltage Aquatics swimmer Tahis Ibanez was all set to attend Adams State University in Colorado until three weeks ago when she heard from her dream school.
BYU’s women’s swimming coach emailed Voltage coach Phoebe Pahis to inquire about Ibanez’s collegiate swimming future, which led to conversations with Ibanez about where she wanted to go. BYU had originally extended a walk-on offer to Ibanez, but a scholarship became available and ultimately prompted the Cougars coaches to reach out to her. In the end, the offer from the Cougars was too good to pass up and Ibanez signed her national letter of intent Thursday evening in the presence of family, friends, coaches and teammates at the Wes Deist Aquatic Center. It concluded what Ibanez and Pahis described as an emotional, whirlwind three weeks, although there was plenty of emotion at Thursday’s festivities.
“I still have butterflies in my stomach,” Ibanez said. “I’m really blessed and honored to go there because it is a dream come true. It was my first choice even before I graduated. I’m supposed to be there in three weeks. Some miracle made it happen.”
Thursday was a big day not only for Ibanez, but her entire family. Her mother and two older brothers swam, and Ibanez began swimming at age 4 as a birthday present to one of her brothers. She is the first in her family to sign with an NCAA school. September makes six years since Ibanez moved with her family to Idaho from Venezuela and she compared her limited knowledge of English upon her arrival to the U.S. to the limited knowledge of Spanish that most English-speaking U.S. high school students have.
“I learned most of my English by being around my team,” Ibanez said.
Pahis, who has coached Ibanez since she was 12, described Ibanez as a great kid who does not shy away when challenges arise. Ibanez joins Hillcrest graduate Roger Woods (BYU) and Idaho Falls graduates Andrea Perttula (Kenyon College) and Kailee Puetz (New Mexico) as Voltage Aquatics swimmers to continue their careers past high school since 2016. Ibanez swam for Voltage as well as for Madison High School, practicing with Idaho Falls when Madison’s numbers were down and forming a co-op with Hillcrest last season until districts and state.
“For her and her parents, swimming in college was the plan,” Pahis said. “Swimming in college was always a dream for her. Seeing her struggles and how she’s overcome them, it’s been such an amazing thing. She has such a fun personality and attitude.”
Ibanez will not only be following in her family’s footsteps with swimming, but in her field of study. Ibanez said she loves math and will be pursuing engineering like her brothers.
She added that she was inspired by previous Voltage swimmers who went on to swim in college, and she credited them as well as her coaches for helping make Thursday possible.
“Swimming is such a big part of my life,” Ibanez said. “I have had amazing coaches. I’m really going to miss them and I’m going to miss my teammates, but I’m excited to swim for BYU. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”