Women's Athlete of the Decade: Alicia Aemisegger ’10
It is true that in NCAA athletics, each competitor is talented and successful when it comes to his or her respective sport. Every so often, however, an athlete emerges who is truly on another level, exceeding even the highest standards of collegiate competition. Princeton had the distinct honor of being home to one such athlete — Alicia Aemisegger ’10 of the women's swimming and diving team — who was so dominant in the pool during her Tiger career that she can indisputably be named The Daily Princetonian's Female Athlete of the Decade.
To look at the women's swimming records board is to instantly see just how successful Aemisegger was at DeNunzio Pool. Her name is emblazoned on it in a nearly unbroken string, and she graduated holding eight individual records and four relay records for the school and seven pool records at Princeton.
The sheer range of capabilities of the 'Prince' 2010 Female Athlete of the Year was unparalleled within the decade.
“I think the difference [between Aemisegger and other great athletes] really comes down to Alicia’s amazing versatility,” explained head coach Susan Teeter, regarding what separates Aemisegger from Princeton’s other renowned swimmers such as 1968 Olympian Cathy Corcione ’74 and 1982 national champion relay anchor Betsy Lind ’85. “I think [her versatility] alone puts her as probably the greatest of our decade, and maybe ever at Princeton.”
Aemesigger not only competed, but towered over her competition in the 200-, 500-, 1,000- and 1,650-yard freestyle; the 100- and 200-yard butterfly; and the 200- and 400-yard individual medley races. She holds school records in each of these races. She also lent her individual skills to the 200- and 400-yard medley relay squad and the 400- and 800-yard freestyle relay teams, each of which holds a school record.
At the core of this versatility was Aemisegger’s notable work ethic.
“Alicia was a tremendous trainer who could swim and race through illness, adversity and exhaustion,” Teeter said, lauding Aemisegger’s personal dedication. Before Aemisegger's final race last year, Teeter told GoPrincetonTigers.com: "She knows how to work hard, she works hard, she does it well, and she has the physical ability to endure it."
During her senior year, she regularly trained with the men's squad, and the results of her hard work are clear: Aemisegger was a 13-time All-American. She competed in and won 12 individual Ivy League championships. She finished second twice in NCAA championships in addition to several other high-placing finishes — the first time as a freshman in the 400-yard individual medley, the best finish ever by a Princeton woman swimmer, and the second time as a senior in the 1,650-yard freestyle. She also reached the finals of the Olympic trials in the 400-yard individual medley as a sophomore.
Despite her unparalleled individual success at Princeton, Aemisegger was a consummate team player. She helped lead the team to three Ivy League championships in her four years, keeping the Tigers in the national top 25 throughout. In return, the team was crucial in enabling her to maximize her individual talents.
“I think the team enhanced Alicia, and she enhanced them,” Teeter said of Aemisegger. “She was elected co-captain by her teammates in her senior year, and that’s a nice compliment to her growth.”
In an interview with GoPrincetonTigers.com, Aemisegger complimented her teammates: “You don’t have that kind of camaraderie anywhere else in the country,” she said. “That’s a huge reason for my success here at Princeton, because everyone has always backed me up and knew anything I was doing was for the benefit of the team.”
Teeter confirmed that Aemisegger's performance was crucial for the Tigers: ”I think Alicia swimming faster all four years here at Princeton gave validity to our program nationally.”