Homer high school swimmer signs with Assumption College

Lauren Kuhns knew she wanted to commit to swim at Assumption College within a day of stepping on campus, she said. On Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Kachemak Swim Club semi-annual membership meeting, Kuhns sat in front of her fellow swimmers and community members at a table adorned with an Assumption College pennant and signed a letter of intent, officially telling the school that she plans to attend after she graduates in spring 2017.

Kuhns swims competitively with the Homer High School swim and dive team and the Kachemak Swim Club. She has had her eye on swimming at the college level since her sophomore year of high school. Kuhns placed third in the 500 freestyle and fifth in the 200 individual medley events at the swimming and dive state championships, which took place in Juneau earlier this month.

Assumption College, which is located nearly 5,000 miles from Homer in Worcester, Mass., seems to be the perfect fit for Kuhns. She plans to study biology for her undergraduate degree and then continue on to attend medical school to become a doctor, like her older brother Ben Kuhns. Her medical field of interest is neurology, and Assumption is one of the only schools that reached out to recruit Kuhns that offers a minor in neuroscience.

“My family has a history of brain injury and I want to see if I can make a difference,” Kuhns said.

Assumption also has an honor’s program that allows freshmen to get a head start on their major. Kuhns plans to be a part of that program. The small school of approximately 1,200 undergraduate students feels safe, since it has safety phones around the closed campus. Plus, the school serves delicious food, Kuhns said.

The feeling of a perfect fit extended to the swim team as well. First, the team’s coach is a biology professor, so he understands the field and the difficulty level of the major. The team often holds study halls together, supporting each other in both academics and as teammates. Though Kuhns was not an official member of the team when she visited, she enjoyed meeting potential teammates who embraced her and another visiting recruit right away, she said.

“All the girls stood out as well-rounded individuals,” Kuhns said. “The team absorbed us and made us feel part of the team.”

Kuhns’ mother, Bridget Kuhns, said that Lauren is looking forward to being a part of team of girls that will challenge her in her sport, as not many girls in Lauren’s age group are swimming competitively in Homer.

“She is excited to have a pool of like-minded fast swimmers. It’s going to be equal, if not motivating,” Bridget said. “In college, she’s going to blossom.”

Though moving to Worcester, which has a much larger population than Homer at more than 180,000 people, will be a change for Kuhns, she feels prepared. She has traveled to training camps during the summer and even lived on her own in Portland last year while training with a swimming program. Additionally, growing up in Homer taught her some valuable lessons.

“I never take anything for granted,” Kuhns said. “ I have gotten lots of praise and support from the community and it’s great to know they’re paying attention.”

Bridget said that Kuhns’ accomplishments have been a result of Lauren’s drive.

“My role is to be needed when I’m needed,” Bridget said. “(Homer High counselor) Lin Hampson said to me last year that she has never had a junior so prepared for the next stage of her life.”

Kuhns’ dedication to swimming hasn’t wavered, throughout high school. She wakes up at 5 a.m. to practice without parental guidance and has stuck to it, Bridget said.

“It’s easy to support someone like that,” Bridget said. “We’ve just tried to keep up with her, her dad and I. Her siblings motivate her. One’s a ship captain and the other’s a doctor. She wanted her picture on the fridge.”

Anna Frost can be reached at anna.frost@homernews.com.