By Kayla Boardman (@kaylarboardman):
With the records she has set, you would think senior Colleen Humel was born in the water.
Although that’s not actually the case, she did start swimming at a very young age.
“I had a pool in my backyard and my dad said he would throw me in the water without my swimmies, and I would come back up asking for more,” Humel said.
When she was eight, Humel gave her mom a pamphlet for a club swim team and said she was interested in joining. After that, she found herself working to get better at the sport.
Hummel chose to leave her hometown of Chicopee, Mass. for college and travel across the country to swim for San Jose State. Her decision was heavily influenced by swimming head coach Sage Hopkins.
“I really love what Sage had to offer and what the team had to offer toward me setting my own personal goals and being able to set really high team goals,” Humel said.
Not only has she excelled as a Spartan in the pool, but she has also been a positive influence on her teammates and coach.
“She has embraced the concept of being the best person she can be — be that a student, a athlete, a teammate, a sister, etc.,” Hopkins said. “She is very focused and has a desire to succeed, be it academically [or] athletically. So it is just fun to work with somebody who has that much drive, devotion [and] motivation.”
Although most of her records are in backstroke, Hummel also shines in freestyle but doesn’t have a preference in what stroke she does. She just found she excels in backstroke.
Humel has proven why she primarily competes in back as she wins most of the races she competes in and ranks second in the 100 and 200 back on the school’s all-time list.
Recently, Humel originally thought she wouldn’t be able to attend the Bearcat Midseason Invitational in Cincinnati because she suffered a concussion and didn’t initially clear the protocol However, she was cleared to compete the day before the team was scheduled to leave.
Two weeks of no weights or pool time didn’t stop Humel and she still traveled with the team to compete in the invitational. She got two pool records swimming in the relay along with pool records in the 100 and 200 back and a season-best in the 200.
“Her hard work really does inspire you,” said senior swimmer Brenna Bushey. “She is like the epitome of college swimming. She will do anything for her teammates. She will do whatever it is, whatever event even if it is not her normal list, she will do it.”
Bushey has joined Humel in putting up good times, as both qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic trials. While neither made the team, they both enjoyed spending time with the top swimmers in the country.
“The experience was so cool,” Humel said. “The first thing I did was trip in front of Michael Phelps when I got there. So I will remember that forever.”
Humel is also a positive force behind her teammates. Bushey said at practices and meets Humel is always there to keep her fellow Spartans’ energy up.
“She makes sure that people are on their game and positive,” Bushey said. “She will smile at you, make funny jokes [and] she sneezes a lot which brings a lot of smiles in.”
Since she is graduating next year, Humel plans to take a break from being in the pool and spending times on the sidelines. She has already accepted a head coach position for a club in San Jose and hopes to also be a photographer for the SJSU swim team.
However, just because she won’t be in the water doesn’t mean she’s giving up. She still has not ruled out the possibility of making the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
“I think swimming will always be a part of my life.”