There isn’t much that stands in the way of Division I Boston College Swimming commit Bryce Henkel of Albany Academy. As a matter of fact, not even 22 Albany Academy swimming records can.
Henkel broke 18 of them. Not to mention he is the 2019 and 2020 Section 2 Swimmer of the Year, 2020 All American; 100m Butterfly, 2021 All American hopeful in 3 events, 14x Section 2 Champion, 3x Section 2 record holder, and 2020 NYS Federation Champion; 100m Butterfly.
The list goes on. And without COVID canceling most of his swim competitions, this blog would have a much higher word count.
Born and raised in Guilderland, NY where he grew up with a pool, obviously. Henkel began swimming frequently at the Albany Country Club at the age of 4. He joined their summer league country club team for a few summers until the age of 7 when he decided he was ready to compete. Henkel then joined the Delmar Dolphins and would eventually end up with the Clifton Park Piranhas.
Like most athletes, he started playing several sports at a young age. “I played the classic U sports like baseball and soccer, just like seasonal things. But I always just kept coming back to swimming and stuck with that. I was just best at that compared to everything else,” Henkel said.
One of the first records Henkel broke at Albany Academy was in eighth grade in the 500m freestyle. Which is also the longest event in high school swimming competitions. And from then on, the faster he got, the more records he would break to reach that 18 out of 22.
“It’s not always easy to wake up at 4:30 A.M. on a Monday to go to practice knowing that I’m going to be in the water 9 times total that week. Doing that week after week for months in a row can become just as much if not more mentally draining than it is physically,” Henkel said when talking about his love for the grind and the challenges you face as a swimmer.
“I think that saying swimmers are built different, like in general, I think that that’s true.”
According to the NCAA Swimming recruitment rules, college coaches can begin to reach out to student-athletes on June 15 after their sophomore year. So it was by no surprise that Henkel woke up on that Saturday morning to a flooded email inbox of coaches.
After a summer of responding and talking to coaches, it was time for the star swimmer to start visiting his top schools. In September of his junior year, he took his first official college visit at Penn State University. From there Henkel planned to visit the rest of the schools in the spring of his junior year when he would be allowed to visit Ivy League schools.
However, these plans were shut down once the COVID-19 pandemic began to hit about a year ago today. Which inevitably left him to finish his recruitment process virtually.
Moving into the summer of COVID, Henkel found himself in close talks with Harvard. A school that dominates the Ivy League every year and was located in his city of choice, Boston.
However, things began to fall short with Harvard as Henkel started to feel he did not fit in there. “I wasn’t sure how I would necessarily fit in at a school that I would have absolutely no chance of getting into if I wasn’t swimming.”
It was at this point that Boston College came onto his radar. And just like a fairytale, all the stars aligned for Henkel and the university. In November 2020, Bryce Henkel verbally committed to Boston College in Fall 2021.
Going into his first college season, Henkel has plenty of confidence and drive to be a competitor at the next level. “My goal is to be Top 24 at ACC’s and hit the NCAA “B” cut.” However, even if he manages to hit the “B” cut, that does not guarantee him a spot in the NCAA Championships. But Henkel is hopeful that he could reach the NCAA’s by his sophomore year. As long as he continues to achieve his season goals.
For those of you who do not know, the “A” cut and “B” cut are two sets of time limits that the NCAA sets for each individual swim event. If your time meets the “A” cut then you automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. However, anyone who makes the “B” cut will have to wait to see where the NCAA draws the line on qualifying times.
Henkel is a top-tier student-athlete. He has already achieved so much at the high school level and is now taking it one step further at Boston College this Fall. Be sure to remember that name over the next few years.