From a young age, Colleen Young ‘20 knew that swimming is something that she loved to do. “I’ve always been very competitive; I’m a pretty competitive person. I’ve been swimming competitively since I was around 8 or 9-years-old.” Young’s passion has already taken her far in life, from taking her to college halfway across the country [as Young hails from St. Louis, Mo.], to competing in the most prestigious international sporting event in the world.
This past summer, Young had the opportunity to represent her country on the international stage at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. It wasn’t her first time at the big show; Young had already competed four years ago at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. “There is no feeling to describe it,” said Young on how it felt to represent the United States in the Games.
“It was really cool [to meet athletes from other countries], we’re all competitors, but I’m still friends with them.” Making the games is an honor in of itself, and Young easily accomplished that task by setting an American and Pan American record in the 100-meter breaststroke at the paralympic trials.
However, Young went above and beyond in her star performance, earning a bronze medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and just missing out on another with a fourth place finish in the 100-meter backstroke. “I was surprised,” Young laughed. “The second day we arrived at Rio, I got sick … I knew I had it in me.” Despite her personal success, Young’s favorite memory of the game was supporting her teammates in their competition. “Cheering on my friends and teammates and watching them get medals; there’s nothing like it.”
Young looks to bring her experience to Fairfield swimming now that she has returned home. She tries to stay loose, even though her history of success might cause pressure from high expectations. “I try not to take myself too seriously … I try not to put pressure on myself,” Young said.
She instead focuses on how she can help the Stags have success as a team. “I think we have a very strong team. We’re doing very well in practice; we have a chance to be great in the [Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference].”
A team’s success often relies on its intangibles; the pointers that cannot be coached. However, it is clear that Young brings much-needed experience to Fairfield. A capable swimmer who has proven to be good at blocking out pressure in big races, Young has the potential to be a huge asset for the Stags, even in her first year on the team.
While it would be easy for someone with these accomplishments to act full of themselves, Young clearly keeps a level head and always looks to self improve. When asked what her personal goals for the year were, instead of something grandiose, she kept her answer simple, and once again with plenty of laughter: “I don’t want to fail any of my classes.”