Napoleon senior Brittany Boysel is making the most of her senior year after a scary injury cut her junior swimming season short.

Boysel, a standout for the Lady Cats water polo and swimming teams, wasn’t sure if she was even going to get in the pool ever again after a freak accident at last year’s sectional swim meet.

After taking a deep breath, Boysel fell into the water and immediately began having trouble breathing. She finished the meet, qualifying for the district meet in both the 200 and 500 freestyle races. However, after the meet, Boysel said her chest began to hurt and she felt like she couldn’t swallow.

It turns out Boysel had exploded several of the alveoli, which are tiny balloon shaped structures in the lungs and are the smallest passageway in the respiratory system. The alveoli allow the relatively easy passage of oxygen and carbon dioxide (CO2) between the alveoli and blood vessels called capillaries.

Exploding the alveoli released air into her body. Boysel said she could actually feel the air pockets around her neck.

Boysel was in the hospital for several days and had to miss the district meet, meaning she would not qualify for the state meet for a third-straight season.

“It was scary,” said Boysel. “After I found out I wouldn’t need surgery and it would resolve on its own, I was so upset and sad. I wanted to swim so bad, but I was in the hospital until Tuesday and the meet was Friday, and there was still air in my body where it shouldn’t be.”

Fast forward to the beginning of her senior year and Boysel is determined to make the most out of every opportunity, beginning with the Lady Cats trip to the State Water Polo Tournament Oct. 18-19.

“I think we are easily a top three or four team,” said Boysel, who was on the Lady Cats state championship team as a freshman. “I hope to finish higher, but we have to bring it. I would love to battle for that one-two spot.”

Her water polo coach said Boysel has really stepped into a leadership role this season.

“This year has been unique,” said Napoleon water polo coach Mike Nye. “The girls numbers are down and we have only three seniors on the roster, and of those seniors Brittany is the only one to have seen a lot of varsity time.

“With the team so young, she has become the teacher,” added Nye. “She understands that she has to pass that down to the younger players so we can have continued success.”

This season, Boysel leads the Lady Cats with 69 goals. She also has 23 assists, 29 steals and has drawn 37 exclusion fouls.

“I like being physical and water polo allows me to take my aggression out on other girls,” said Boysel.

“She is not afraid to be physical and get after it,” said Nye. “She has learned this season to slow down and let the game come to her. She has learned to finish her shots.”

After the water polo season, Boysel is anxious to get back to competitive swimming — the reason she came to Napoleon in the first place.

The daughter of Rebekah and Amos Boysel of Archbold, Boysel transferred to Napoleon schools in the eighth grade so she could be part of the swim team — a sport not offered at Archbold.

“I’ve been in a pool since I was six months old,” said Boysel. “I just liked being in the water for fun. I tried different sports on land, but I was really uncoordinated. So I started swimming when I was 8 and I wasn’t ready to be done so I transferred schools in eighth grade.”

As a freshman Boysel qualified for the state swim meet as part of the Lady Cats 400 free relay team. The next year she qualified as an individual in the 200 and 500 free events.

“I think she is ready to go all out,” said Napoleon swim coach Denise Brown. “Nothing is going to stop her this year. She is a very driven young woman. Nothing will hold her back.

“You get a goal in front of her and she is going to go after it,” added Brown. “She also has the skill to keep that goal in focus.”

“I really can’t wait to get back out there,” said Boysel. “I want to show that I can be better than what I was before. I want to be able to do the best I can.”

Along with being a top swimmer, Boysel is one of the top students at Napoleon High School, boasting a 4.0 grade point average. She is also the vice president of the Spanish Club, a member of National Honor Society and a prom chair.

Boysel said she wants to study nursing in college and also wants to swim and play water polo. Finding a school that she can do all of those things has been problematic.

“I have some offers from different places, but I have not made up my mind,” said Boysel.

No matter where she ends up, it is certain she will find a way to do it all. That’s just who she is.

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