Senior and one of the captains of the men's swimming team, David Humphrey is proud of finishing his athletic career at UT, but now looks forward to using his talents for a greater good.
"I like swimming but I think my environment needs to change," explains Humphrey, a native Taiwanese from Sebastian, Fla. "I'll still be swimming but not in this type of competition."
Humphrey is in the process of joining the U.S. Coast Guard as a rescue swimmer. The position is fitting since he has experience saving people. He has served as a lifeguard at Hilton Head Island, SC since 2011, where he has rescued numerous people, describing the task as exhilarating.
Despite this courageous stance as a lifeguard and potential Coast Guard rescuer, David wasn't always a fearless swimmer. At his very first race as a young boy, he admits to refusing to dive off the starting blocks, costing his relay team the race. He's come a long way since then.
With his dad as a role model, (a swimmer and cliff diver himself), David received support in swimming and fitness, competing since age 6. He is now an accomplished swimmer, having broken school records and qualified for the postseason Nationals all four times at UT since his freshman year. He will be graduating this spring with an adult fitness degree.
"I'm happy that I finished out my career. I'm happy I made it to the end," reflects Humphrey on swimming at UT. Upon this end is born a new beginning in which Humphrey will take his talents and skills into the next chapter of his life.
"Everything I've done has always been tied in to one another," he says, commenting on his achievements and now present endeavor to join the Coast Guard. Humphrey admits he had previously considered joining the military, but getting a brief look at the service men in action moved him to pursue it as a career for himself.
As a lifeguard at Hilton Head Island, he recalls standing beneath a Coast Guard plane that flew overhead during a national lifeguarding competition. It was part of a mock drill, in which a rescue was simulated and which presented itself as an inspiring and tangible opportunity. "I thought: I could see myself doing this," reflects Humphrey. "I'd prefer to do something that is beneficial to other people."
He has finished applying and will further select a date for boot camp in late August.
Humphrey's will to help was evident on the UT swim team as well. As a captain, he says he tried to look after his teammates as family members. He also describes the coaching dynamic as a supportive family, looking over the swimmers in the pool as their own children.
At UT, swimming helped Humphrey develop leadership skills as a captain and stay focused on his goals. "If I didn't have swimming, I would have had a lot harder time in college. It kept good structure in my life." He also credits his father for keeping him motivated.
Although the season is over, this structure will undoubtedly remain in Humphrey's life as he embarks on a military career with several other goals in mind, such as eventually opening his own gym and motorcycle shop.
Beyond the pool, one could find Humphrey fishing, motorcycling, surfing, or getting the latest edition of his tattoos-one of which depicts a traditional Chinese folktale-deriving inspiration from his ethnicity as his mom is fully Chinese.
David takes life in strides, approaching one milestone after another. "I think it's always good to set a goal before you finish another one, so you always have something to shoot for," he says.
At UT, his goal was to excel both athletically and academically. Having done so, Humphrey will soon take on an ambitious call to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard and help others with the talent he possesses.
Written by Anya Proctor