Tufts Senior Portrait: Colleen Doolan
While the Chicago suburbs are not known for a lengthy outdoor swimming season, it was enough to “inspire a love for the water,” said Colleen Doolan, A19. Growing up there with a pool the backyard, all four Doolan children—two sets of twins—swam competitively, but she was the only one to continue through the end of college. At the NCAA Division III Nationals in Greensboro, North Carolina, in March, she completed her last race as a member of the 400 women’s freestyle relay.
After competing in the 200 butterfly and coming in ninth in the 800 freestyle relay, Doolan’s last event was the 400 freestyle relay. “I finished the race thinking that was it,” she said. “But we placed fifteenth, sneaking into the top sixteen for the final that night. I got one more race in and ended on a high note. I was also grateful my family could be there to celebrate the end of fifteen years of swimming.”
Now Doolan is poised to make a splash beyond the pool. Interested in health care since arriving on campus, Doolan will start at Tufts University School of Medicine this fall. In February, she completed a double major in biology and community health and is currently working as a clinical research assistant in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Her extracurricular activities, apart from swimming, have included the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life and the Sharewood Project, a free treatment center for underserved patients in neighboring Malden. Farther afield, Doolan has volunteered at local clinics in Ghana and Haiti over summer breaks.
During medical school at Tufts, Doolan plans to also earn a master’s in public health, making her a future triple Jumbo—and yet she originally toured Tufts on a whim.
“My mother and I were visiting colleges in Boston and had a few hours to spare, so she suggested I look at Tufts,” Doolan remembered. “Navigating Boston is much more difficult than getting around Chicago’s perfect grid, so we got lost on our way to campus.”
Two tour groups had just left, so a student guide, Tyler Lueck, E16, offered to take them on a private visit. Not only was he premed and a volunteer with Relay for Life, he was a varsity swimmer. “He convinced me to consider Tufts,” she said, “and two months later I was back on a recruiting trip.”
Similarly influential on younger athletes on the swim team, Doolan has raised the bar for the sport at Tufts. As a freshman and sophomore, she competed nationally in individual events, along with her teammate, star swimmer Amanda Gottschalk, A17.
“This year, our goal was to qualify a big group,” Doolan said, and indeed the squad sent ten women to the NCAA Division III nationals. “We’ve become more competitive, earning a spot on the national stage. We now have goals that match our potential. I’m proud about that.”