Jakie Köhli said she has always felt most comfortable in the water.
The pool is where Köhli has swum since she was 6 years old, and the pool is where she now lights up the scoreboard in college.
The junior attacker established a new IU single-season record as a sophomore, scoring 80 goals for the IU water polo team.
Also during her sophomore campaign, Köhli scored her 100th career goal. However, her dreams have always gone beyond Bloomington.
Growing up in Burnaby, British Columbia — about eight miles east of Vancouver — Köhli said she aspired to be an Olympian.
“It was more of an ambition to go to the Olympics,” Köhli said. “When I was in about grade nine or 10, that was when college recruiters started coming to see other girls on our team play. They saw me and I (thought), ‘I guess I can go to college.’”
Köhli, who began playing water polo at age 7, may have never committed to play for IU coach Barry King had it not been for senior attacker Kelsey Campbell, who played on the same Canadian club team as Köhli.
Köhli said Campbell was instrumental as the recruiting procedure progressed, as was her mother, who helped guide Köhli through the paperwork.
“She helped me out with a lot of stuff when I came here for my recruiting trip even though I was already signed,” Köhli said. “She showed me around, said that I could come to her for anything. She had a huge impact.”
Last season, Köhli said her success on offense came early.
“I got a lot more confident when we had our first tournament, and I scored a bunch of goals,” she said. “It was a huge confidence boost for me.”
She also credited her teammates with the quick start.
“The girls on our team set me up on a lot of those. I probably wouldn’t have had half of those goals if my teammates hadn’t helped me out,” Köhli said.
As the season progressed, teammates would not hesitate to let Köhli know she was inching closer to Hoosier history. Köhli chuckled and said her teammates reminded her with every score that she was closing in on the IU record for most goals scored in a single season.
“As soon as I got within 20 goals, the girls said, ‘You got 20 more goals and you’re there.’ Every time I scored a goal, they would have a countdown for me. I was very well aware.”
Köhli said such countdowns would elicit a little bit of good-humored pressure.
“I felt like I was confident I would reach it,” she said. “It kind of did put pressure on me sometimes. They were really great about it. It was always joking. It was exciting.”
Often when a player asserts herself as a scoring threat as Köhli has, opponents will adjust. Still, Köhli avoided thinking about what she would do for an encore. King said he noticed opponents played IU a bit differently because of Köhli during its season opener Jan. 22-23 during the Michigan Kick-Off in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“I think there was a lot more recognition of where she was in the pool,” King said. “I don’t know that there were attempts to shut her down. She still got a lot of opportunities. When people may have been trying to take her out of the game defensively, other people got a lot of really good opportunities to score.”
For all that she has accomplished thus far, Köhli said she doesn’t play for the individual accolades.
“It’s a great feeling to be in the record books,” she said. “I don’t really care — it’s not something that I was going for. I just want to make our team better. Our team is a lot better at shooting this year. I’d like to make sure everybody gets a chance to score a bunch of goals.”