Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 26
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
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BREATHTAKING: Princeton University swimming superstar Alicia Aemisegger takes a deep breath as she readies herself for a race earlier in her Princeton career. Next week, Aemisegger, a rising PU junior, will be competing in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb. Aemisegger, who currently holds the Princeton school record in seven events, plans to compete in the 200 and 400 individual medley events at the trials as she looks to punch her ticket for the Beijing Summer Olympics in August.

Princeton Swimming Superstar Aemisegger Primed for Big Effort at U.S. Olympic Trials

Bill Alden

Last summer, Princeton University swimming superstar Alicia Aemisegger learned some valuable lessons as she went to Asia and competed in the World University Games.

“It was an awesome experience; we went to Singapore and Thailand,” said Aemisegger, a rising Princeton junior who placed fourth in both the 200 and 400 individual medley championship finals.

“I swam next to the 2004 gold and silver medalist in one race; it was nervewracking and exciting. It helped my nerves and my confidence.”

This week, Aemisegger will look to apply those lessons as she competes in the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb. which run from June 29-July 6.

The 20-year-old native of Oreland, Pa. knows that she will have to harness her emotions if she is to get the most out of her potential and earn a spot on the U.S. Team for the Beijing Summer Olympics in August.

“I’m really excited,” said Aemisegger, who plans to compete in the 200 and 400 IM events and may add another race to the mix since she has qualified in other events.

“Of course I’m nervous but I’m trying not to think about it. I just want to come out of it knowing that I did my best. It’s really tough, only the top two in each event make it so we’ll see.”

Aemisegger certainly gave her best this past winter in her sophomore year for Princeton. Dominating the competition, Aemisegger helped Princeton rise to No. 18 in the national polls and fed off the team’s special chemistry.

“I did what I had to do as a freshman and I wanted to do it better as a sophomore,” said Aemisegger in looking back on her sophomore season.

“The team was great, it was like a family, to have seven people at the NCAAs from an Ivy team is great, I don’t know when that has happened before.”

The versatile Aemisegger capped the regular season by leading Princeton to its third straight title at the Ivy League Championships, getting named as the Swimmer of the Meet for the second straight year after winning the 500, 1,000, and 1,650 freestyle races and helping the Tigers to victory in the 800 free relay.

“It was so fun to see my teammates make the NCAAs and to see their hard work pay off and overcome doubts they may have had,” said Aemisegger in reflecting on the Ivy meet.

“The 1650 was my best mile ever; I was really happy with the 200 I swam in the 800 relay. It was great to see the relay team drop time and make the NCAAs.”

The NCAA meet turned out to be a survival test for Aemisegger who took ill the week before the competition.

“I had the flu the week before; I was out of the water for four days,” recalled Aemisegger, who placed fourth in both the 500 free and 400 IM and took eighth in the 1,650 free and was later named the Division I Women’s Mid-Major Swimmer of the Year for the second straight time.

“It is really hard to deal with that; it’s like being out for months. I was happy with how I did under the circumstances. People who didn’t know that I had the flu may have thought I had gone down from my freshman year. I couldn’t have been happier with getting in the top eight in all my events. It definitely tested my character.”

This summer, Aemisegger is putting herself through a physical test daily as she trains for her shot at a place on the U.S. team.

“In the morning from 6 to 9, I swim about 10,000 meters,” said Aemisegger, who has been training this summer with the Germantown Academy Aquatic Club (GAAC) and longtime coach Dick Shoulberg.

“I take a nap and then have lunch. We have another workout in the pool from 1 to 3 where we go about 7,000 meters. Then we have 40 minutes of dry land training with lifting running and spinning. It’s everything I am used to.”

Aemisegger is used to juggling her training as she has made frequent trips to Germantown during her Princeton career.

“At Princeton my training is for pure racing,” explained Aemisegger, who currently holds the Princeton school record in seven events.

“I get yardage and speed at Germantown. I was going there every other day at some points during the year. In the springtime, there are not that many people training at Princeton; we have a lot of potential Olympians at the club.”

As she competes in Omaha, though, Aemisegger will be drawing on the support of her Princeton family.

“The team has been really supportive; everyone understands that I have to do this,” said Aemisegger.

“They don’t get mad if I can’t come out with them. They send me texts to encourage me; I have been hearing a lot from them.”

And the world could be hearing a lot about Aemisegger if she makes her way back to Asia this August.

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