March 31, 2007
Deb Gruen, a freshman on the Yale women's swimming and diving team, set a new world record in the 800 meter freestyle at the CAN-AM Disability Championships, which were held in Montreal from March 16 to March 18.
Gruen won three events at the CAN-AM Championships, but it was her 800 freestyle win that put her name in the record books. With events divided by different levels of physical disability on a 1-10 scale, 1 being the classification for swimmers with the most severe disabilities, Deb swam in the S7 race of the 800 free. She won her race comfortably in a time of 12:00.85, which set a new American, Pan-American and World Record. Gruen also smashed her personal best for the event by 18 seconds.
"I was both shocked and excited when I finished my 800 freestyle and my coach told me my time," Gruen said. "I did not think that I would go nearly as fast I did, but I had a great race with the swimmer next to me, and I think that really helped to push me along."
But world records are nothing new for Deb; her record at the CAN-AM Championship was the fifth in her career. She set her first world record at the 2003 National Disability Championships held in Minneapolis, MN. The record in the 800 free was also her ninth American record and her sixth Pan-Am record.
Gruen's other wins at the CAN-AM meet came in the 100 meter and 200 meter breaststroke events; in both events she swam in the SB6 race. In the 100 breaststroke, Deb won in a time of 1:47.82, just two seconds shy of her personal best for the event. Again, she won by a comfortable margin of almost 13 seconds. In the 200 breaststroke, Gruen won in a time of 3:39.89. She also finished third in the 200 meter individual medley and the 400 meter freestyle.
"Overall, I was quite pleased with my results at the meet," Gruen said. "I actually wasn't sure what to expect going into the meet, since freshman year has been a transitional time trying to adjust to a new campus, friends, roommates, classes, dining halls, swim teams, coaches, and the whole college experience. The varsity swim team at Yale has been tremendously welcoming to me and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of such a dedicated, cohesive team with incredibly helpful coaches."
As a result of her success Gruen has been named to the 2007 U.S. Paralympic Elite Team. As a member of the team, she will compete in the German Open held in Berlin in May and the Summer CAN-AM Championships held in Vancouver in July. But her real goal is still another year off. Gruen hopes to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Paralympics held in September immediately following 2008 Olympic Games. After winning a bronze medal in the 100 meter breaststroke at the 2004 Athens Paralympics, if Gruen qualifies for Beijing she will be a two-time Paralympian at the age of 20.
Complete results from the 2007 CAN-AM Disability Championships are available at the meet website.
Report filed by Jamie Cordes '07, Yale Sports Publicity.