Friday, March 19, 2010

Time To Get Out Of The Pool

TigerBlog has met Alicia Aemisegger once, when she came into the office to be interviewed by a reporter.

As an aside, that was the last time Harvey Yavener, longtime Trenton Times sportswriter/columnist interviewed a Princeton athlete before he retired, so that makes Aemisegger the answer to one trivia question.

TigerBlog's other question about Aemisegger is much more subjective than who Yav's last interview at Princeton was.

No, what TB wants to know is this: Is Alicia Aemisegger the greatest female athlete in Princeton history?

Certainly TB and the rest of the staff at HQ thought she was the best athlete of the last decade, as she was named Princeton's No. 1 female athlete of the last 10 years this past December.

What about all-time?

Aemisegger is completing her Princeton career this weekend at the NCAA swimming and diving championships at Purdue University.

Aemisegger, who already owns eight individual Princeton records, 10 All-America honors and 12 Ivy League individual championships.

Aemisegger, who has placed as high as second at the NCAA Championships (2007, 400 IM), finished fourth in the 500 freestyle last night, and she will compete in the 400 IM today and the 1650 tomorrow.

Aemisegger is now an 11-time All-America, and she went 12 for 12 in her career in winning individual Ivy League championships. Review the Princeton women's swimming record book, and there can be no question that she has completely dominated the sport during her time here.

TigerBlog always thinks that it seems like athletes who play the same supporting role on a team for four years appear to be on a team for longer than their allotted time. In Aemisegger's case, it's not hard to accept that her time as a Princeton swimmer is ending, since everything she's done has been so high profile.

With the end of her career, it's time to start talking about her historical place at Princeton.

It's interesting to TB that while men's athletics predates women's athletics here by more than 100 years, it's easier to say who the best male athletes of all time at Princeton are. On the women's side, there's never been a clear answer.

According to TigerBlog, at least, there can be no debate that the greatest male athlete in Princeton history is Bill Bradley. Dick Kazmaier and Hobey Baker come next. The debate is for No. 4, and there TB can narrow it down to a group of 25 or so for the next spot.

In many ways, this is why starting a Princeton athletics Hall of Fame would be so hard. Do you start with those three and then wait a year for everyone else? Or, if you include a first group of, say, 20-30, are you devaluing those three?

On the women's side, there's never been any athlete or two who've been so clear-cut.

So who is the greatest female athlete in school history?

Is it Aemisegger? Is it someone like field hockey player Amy MacFarlane or field hockey/lacrosse player Lisa Rebane? Elizabeth Pillion (soccer/lacrosse) might be the best all-around female athlete ever to play here.

Going back earlier, is it Cathy Corcione, who swam in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City and then became a great swimmer here? Maybe it's Emily Goodfellow, the only athlete in school history to win 12 letters.

The list of great athletes who have competed in track and field at Princeton is huge. Is Lynn Jennings the best Princeton athlete? Is Debbie St. Phard the one?

TB could go sport-by-sport and come up with great female athletes who could be considered. And who knows, maybe the greatest female athlete in Princeton history is just starting her career, perhaps Katie Reinprecht or Niveen Rasheed?

The bottom line is that if you ask 10 people knowledgeable about the history of Princeton athletics, you'll get back Bradley-Kazmaier-Baker 10 times. Ask the same people about the women's athletes, and you could get back 10 different answers.

Still, Alicia Aemisegger, whose Princeton career ends this weekend, is up there with any of them.

And, a case can be made that the greatest female athlete in school history has spent the last four winters in DeNunzio Pool.

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