Sue Hensley has a passion for swimming.
The former Florida State swimmer, then known as Sue Lowe, pursued a coaching career in the sport after her days as a Seminole. She later married Don Hensley and the couple had two boys – Cole and Noah.
Since they could walk, Cole and Noah could be found poolside with their mom. And even as the Hensley boys grew and tried other sports, swimming remained their love.
“We started [swimming] when we were so young,” Noah said. “We both were around four years old. Compared to everything else we tried, we were so much better at swimming. Everything else felt like a hobby, or we did it if we had time. We’ve done triathlons with our mom and running, but swimming was always there.”
Originally from Tallahassee, the Hensley’s swam for ATAC at Trousdell Aquatics Center until 2004, when they moved to Winter Springs, Fla. and joined the Blue Dolphins. They were coached by former FSU All-Americans, Charlie Rose and Joel Roycik.
You could say the boys have been around Florida State swimming their entire lives.
Now, Cole and Noah, can contribute to that legacy, together.
A senior who has stepped into the role as team captain, Cole is looking to continue the success from a season ago when he swam in the ‘A’ final of the 200 fly at the 2015 ACC Championships. Noah is a freshman, with his entire FSU career in front of him.
As a high school senior in 2011, Cole originally planned to attend either George Washington or Kenyon, before a late offer from Florida State led him to reconsider.
He came to the program hoping to develop in the butterfly, and instantly found himself behind Connor Knight and eventually Pavel Sankovich, who respectively hold the fastest 100 and 200 fly times in FSU history and ranked among the best in the NCAA’s best. After three seasons, Cole Hensley is now the guy.
Cole Hensley with his parents and Coach Bradley on senior day.
“I’ve been chasing Connor every year and I’ve got better and better every year,” Cole said. “It’s wild to be the flyer everyone is chasing. It hasn’t changed much. Connor is still here and there are others that push me. I’m not used to being that guy.”
Florida State swimming coach Frank Bradley has a great deal of respect for Cole Hensley’s approach.
“Cole’s progress has happened because he bought in and thrived on a huge learning curve, and everything he needed to develop,” Bradley said. “He had to learn so many things about training, along with the technical side and mechanics, and had to work on that every day. He’s done a great job. He’s doing things now that I’ve seen Connor and Pavel do every day in some of the most stressful conditions. Not too many people can do that.”
After just missing out on the NCAA field in 2015 with a time of 1:44.68 in the 200 fly – which he swam at the ACC Championships – Cole set his goal to score at the NCAA Championships meet to finish out his career.
“That was the best swim of my life,” Cole said of his ACC swim. “I had never made it to a championship final at a big meet before and I’ve steadily dropped time each year. I’m grateful for Frank and all of the coaches for all they’re doing. It was really awesome.”
In Cole’s eyes there is no better way to finish off his career than having the opportunity to train and compete with his little brother each day.
Cole and Noah Hensley swim on the same winning 400 medley relay team against Louisville.
As one of the top recruits in the 2015 class – a two-time 4A state champ and junior national qualifier – Noah Hensley had seen how Florida State helped his brother develop as an athlete and a person. In fact, academically, Cole is one of the brightest on the team, majoring in physics with two Golden Torch honors along with 2015 ACC All-Academic team selection.
Noah became familiar with FSU from watching his brothers meets and attending football games, however, his recruitment was a little different that Cole’s. In addition to FSU, Noah talked to a host of bigger schools, including Indiana, Auburn, Florida and Wisconsin. Making the decision to follow his brother as a Seminole was not easy.
In fact, during his senior season at Oviedo High School, he wanted to go to Florida.
“For a long time I wanted to go to Florida,” Noah said. “That was from the swimming aspect, not from a college-life perspective. Being here, I knew a lot of people on the team and it was just a lot nicer and an easier transition. The academics, you’re going to get anywhere, and I thought I could be more at home here. I went through the recruiting process and when I told our high school athletic director that it was down to FSU and UF, he told me to take swimming out of the equation and figure out where I’d want to go. That’s what did it for me.
“There were connections with Noah and it helped open the door, because he knew everything about the program from his brother and from some of his former teammates that are on the team,” Bradley said.
Once his decision was made, Noah could not wait to get to Tallahassee to begin training with the team this past summer.
“Noah saw this is a program where he can develop in, rapidly, and that’s what he did when he came this summer,” Bradley said. “He didn’t come in like a normal freshman. He came in comfortable and confident in his ability to work with eyes and ears wide open, wanting to learn everything he could.”
From the start, Noah didn’t act like a shy freshman. There were times in workouts when he would be encouraging others, including some of the professionals that still train with the team.
“Noah has established himself right away as a utility guy, because he can do some many different things,” Bradley said. “It’s going to be a matter of how we can develop him and dial into different areas as we get to the end of the year. He’s a really good leader by his work ethic and how he attacks everything and it’s easy for me to use him as an example. He’s vocal for a freshman. Maybe having big brother here helps.”
Although they’re brothers, they’re very different.
Cole specializes in the 200 fly, is a double-major in physics and math and leads by example. Noah can swim a plethora of strokes and distances, just chose sport management as his major and is quite vocal at the pool.
“Recruiting siblings are hit or miss,” Bradley said. “It depends on the connection. They’ve matured as brothers. The two of them feed off each other. Having Noah here is great for Cole and for Noah, with Cole here, he helps him get exposed to different situations and not having to deal with the stress or unknown of it.
“It’s been great. Having a guy like Cole opens the recruiting door, not just for his brother, but for anyone. Here is a super bright kid in a difficult major, excelling on a pretty strong level and a very good 200 flyer. It’s opened a lot of eyes as to what athletes can achieve here at FSU.”