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Women’s Swimming and Diving Ready to Take on 2011-12 Season

Alexandra Forrester. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Alexandra Forrester. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Bulldogs Have Two Scrimmages This Weekend

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In two days the Yale women's swimming and diving team will dive into its competitive racing season with the strong foundation from last year's season in place, and a lot of new faces looking forward.  A winning record of 6-4 (5-2 Ivy League) made last year's dual season a successful one, and with six All-Ivy honorees on a team of 22 the Bulldogs proved just as strong in championship races.  Looking to take the team to the next level this year is Cristina Teuscher, who enters her second season as Robert J.H. Kiphuth Head Coach of Women's Swimming and Diving.  Big things can be expected from this year's swimmers and divers alike.  Chris Bergère was a new hire last year as diving coach for the Bulldogs and he returns for a second season as well with his senior-most diver, Rachel Rosenberg, leading the team as Yale's captain for the 2011-12 season.

At the end of last year the Bulldogs graduated three seniors, all of whom were swimmers.  This year, the Bulldogs bring six swimmers and one diver into the fold with the addition of the Class of 2015, the first to be recruited by Teuscher.  Rebecca DeLaFuente, Callie Fosburgh, Helena Gali, Cassidy Lapp, Elizabeth Larsen and Jacqui Levere are the new crop of swimmers, while Lauren Gardanier joins the diving team.  The freshmen come from all over the country and already they boast some very impressive accomplishments, including numerous school records and All-American honors.  Together they will add to the size and strength of this year's squad.

All but one of the freshmen recruited under Coach Teuscher are actually on campus this fall, as Eva Fabian (Keene, N.H.) chose to defer for one year to try to qualify for next year's Olympic games.  Fabian finished 30th in the 10k event at the 2011 FINA Open Water World Championships over the summer, falling short of qualification, but will have more opportunities to race and to qualify in the coming months.  Most recently Fabian competed in the open water 10k at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she finished fourth with a time of 2:05:54.8.  Her next chance to qualify will be on Apr. 27 at the 2012 Open Water National Championships in Fort Myers, Fla., where if she finishes in the top two she will go on to represent the U.S. on June 9 in Setubal, Portugal, where the top person from each country will make it to the Olympics.  If Fabian qualifies she will compete at the 2012 Olympics in London from July 27 to Aug. 12.

Fabian is not the only Yale swimmer vying for a bid to next year's Olympics.  Junior Molly Albrecht and senior Athena Liao have already qualified to swim at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb., from June 25 to July 2.  Junior Alexandra Forrester, junior Joan Weaver and senior Hayes Hyde are hopefuls as well, but first have to meet Olympic Trials qualifying standards at the 2011 AT&T Winter National Championships in Atlanta, Ga., from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3.  Carly Gibson, a recent graduate of James Madison University and the Bulldogs' new volunteer assistant coach, will also look to qualify for the trials by racing in Atlanta.

Setting the example for the new group of talent this year are the team's seniors, Hyde, Liao, Rosenberg and Abigail Nunn.  While all four will be crucial to the team's success, Rosenberg stands out as the first diver to be elected captain of the Yale women's swimming and diving team in recent memory.  As a sophomore Rosenberg was conference champion in the three-meter event with a score of 291.60 at Ivy's, for which she received first team All-Ivy honors and was named Diver of the Meet.  Last year she beat her three-meter personal best when she broke 300 points twice in meets against Navy and Brown, and proved she is just as good on one-meter with a third-place finish at Ivy's.  Rosenberg will look to improve on these scores this year as she leads a five-person diving squad, the largest the team has seen in the time Rosenberg has been at Yale.

Also new this year is Dominique Diezi O'Brien, a two-time Olympian for Switzerland and the latest hire as assistant coach for the Yale women's swimming and diving team.  A 2001 graduate of Northwestern, Diezi O'Brien was a member of Switzerland's National Team from 1992-2004 and has held several school and Swiss national records.  She arrives in New Haven after five seasons with Southern Methodist, where she helped coach the Mustangs to four straight Conference USA Championships.  Diezi O'Brien worked a lot with SMU's international student-athletes that competed in international competitions, and has been a counselor for Swiss Swimming in age group development programs.  Working closely with Coach Teuscher, Diezi O'Brien will bring even more Olympic-level experience to the coaching staff here at Yale.

This year the racing season kicks off with three scrimmages for the Bulldogs.  Yale will go up against McGill on Oct. 29 at 1:00 p.m., Colgate on Oct. 30 at 12:00 p.m. and Southern Connecticut on Nov. 4 at 3:00 p.m.  These scrimmages are a new addition to the schedule this year and will help the team to get up and race early on in the season (last year the Bulldogs raced dual meets every weekend for six straight weeks in January and February).  The first official dual meet for the Bulldogs is against the Lions at Columbia on Nov. 11.

When all of the fall championships and dual meets are through, the team will head south for a winter training trip in Plantation City, Fla.  From Dec. 27 to Jan. 3 the Bulldogs will get eight days of training in warm weather and will likely have a dual meet against Eastern Michigan as well.  The winter training trip is new this year and will help the Bulldogs carry momentum into the late winter racing season.

Report filed by Tom Lynam '13, Yale Sports Publicity