Athlete of the week: Collin Krueger, Elk River, swimming: Aqua achiever

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Collin Krueger is engineered for swimming, long and lean at 6-foot-2 and 155 pounds, with power in the upper body from weightlifting, and oversized hands that, in his words, “grab a lot of water.”

That ideal physique, plus competitive zeal, make this Elk River senior a consistent and versatile winner in a sport that he doesn’t devote a lot of time to, just the three months of the Elk season.

“His specialty is freestyle races, but he can swim all events well,” said coach Denise Eidem. “He could qualify for state in several events. We will see what looks best for him as the season progresses. He is a kid with raw talent. He is not a year-round swimmer.”

Collin Krueger, who open-enrolls to ERHS because Big Lake doesn't have swimming, holds two team records and went to state in three events as a junior. (Photo by Bruce Strand)

Krueger, who open-enrolls to ERHS because his hometown of Big Lake doesn’t have swimming, was Section 8AA champion in 200 and 500 freestyle and 400 freestyle relay as a junior. This season, in four duals so far, he’s unbeaten in duals with wins in the 100 and 200 freestyle, IM, backstroke and butterfly plus relays. He holds two school records.

Asked why he doesn’t swim with a club the rest of the year like many standouts, he said, “I’ve got a job, landscaping and snow-plowing, for Advantage Lawn Care. I love manual labor.”

He relishes swimming, too.

“I like the racing part. Also being part of a team, while getting individual results, too. It’s always challenging.”

Eidem chuckles at Krueger’s frisky competitiveness. “He really likes to race. That’s the big thing. You’ll see him playing cat-and-mouse in the 500. He lets the other kid get right next to him, then turns on the afterburners in the last hundred! Any race that goes down to the last five or 10 yards, he’s going to win.”

He played football in sixth grade, but his mom had other ideas. After that season he joined a swim club in Monticello.

“My mom wanted to get me  into a sport that wasn’t football,” said Krueger. “She was scared of me playing football.”

When he was high-points swimmer in a meet at STMA, he realized he could be good at it.  He switched to the Elk River-based Jets. His parents tried to get Big Lake to start a swimming program to no avail. In 10th grade he became an Elk, delighted to not only have a swim team but also more shop classes including his favorite, auto mechanics.

After one JV season (transfer rule), Krueger made a big splash as one of the top two scorers along with Aaron Schwab on  a conference runner-up team. After his three golds at sectionals, he didn’t make the top 16 in the 200 or 500 at state, but got on the scoreboard with 11th place in the relay. He broke the Elks’ 500 freestyle record, which had stood since 1997, and lowered it to 4:46.06 at state.

Krueger broke the Ekj 200 freestyle  record, which stood since 2004, with 1:47.42 this week. His other PB’s are 23.78 in 50 free, 49.93 in 100 free, 1:48.01 in  200 free, 59.62 in backstroke, 58.81 in butterfly, and 2:06.17 in individual medley.

His main remaining goals are the IM record (six seconds away) and making state in a couple of the shorter races.

Krueger is comfortable with every stroke except breaststroke. “She puts me wherever she wants,” he says, with satisfaction. Acknowledged Eidem: “Collin and Aaron are pretty much interchangeable.”

Asked what racing in water is like, Krueger offered these glimpses: “Technique is a big deal. If you breathe a lot, you’re not gonna go very fast. I try to keep parts of my body not tired so I can kick in at the end. I lay off the legs the first half of the race. Denise says, when you start to kick faster, your arms are forced to go faster, too.”

Krueger says he’d like to get a college scholarship for swimming, but if that does not materialize, he plans to join the Navy.

THE KRUEGER SCORECARD

Collin Krueger

Personal file – Age: 17 … Family: parents, Jim and Kristin; sister, Emily, 13 … Sport: swimming … Academics: mostly B’s … Next: college or Navy

Favorite stuff – Class: auto shop …. TV show: “Black Gold” … Movies: “Fast Five,” “The Expendables” … Team: Packers … Athlete: Donald Driver … Food: vanilla ice cream … Drink: Gatorade orange mango … Kickback: fishing, snowboardi

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