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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — U.S. Navy Cmdr. Matthew Humphreys, a former NCAA swim champion for UC Santa Cruz, was named a Silver Anniversary Award winner by the NCAA on Monday, making him the first Banana Slug to earn the honor.

The award — presented to six individuals annually — dates back to 1973 and recognizes distinguished former student-athletes on the 25th anniversary of the end of their intercollegiate athletics eligibility.

Humphreys will receive the award at the NCAA Convention's Honors Celebration on Jan. 19 in Indianapolis. The other '22 honorees include Maiya Anderson (Air Force), Tim Duncan (Wake Forest), Warrick Dunn (Florida State), Katie King Crowley (Brown) and Tina Thompson (Virginia).

"Matt was an amazing athlete," said Mickey Wender, UCSC's swim coach from 1992-98. "He left an indelible mark on me and on the program. He was tough, selfless and had no ego. But in coaching him, it was challenging him to find out how tough and good he was."

More than a swimmer, Humphreys is a hero. He joined the Coronado Lifeguard Service while still attending Coronado High in 1990 and made more than 200 rescues during his 14-year career, the Coronado Eagle and Journal reported. When he stepped away from the program, the Coronado City Council proclaimed May 6, 2003, to be "Matthew Humphreys Day."

Humphreys came to UCSC as a water polo player, and joined the swim team one year later. During his career, he earned All-American honors 19 times.

He won the 1996 NCAA title in the 200 individual medley, and still holds the UCSC's school record in the event. His win gave UCSC its first individual national champion in school history.

"The national championship — that wasn't important," Wender said. "He was always about testing his limits and exploring his potential. He is someone that after 30 years as a college coach, I think about a lot."

After graduating from UCSC, Humphreys became an officer in the U.S. Navy as well as a medical doctor. He attended the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Md., and is dual board certified in preventive medicine and occupational medicine.

For his Naval service, he has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy Commendation Medal. He's currently serving active duty.

"We're tremendously proud to have an alum whose accomplishments as a Slug and after his time after UCSC are so impressive," UCSC swim coach Matt Crawford said. "Matt gives current Slugs a strong identity and something to aspire to. I want to extend a big congratulations to him on behalf of the entire Slug community."

GoSlugs.com contributed to this report.

(c)2022 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.)

Visit the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.) at www.santacruzsentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(NCAA Facebook)

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