06 February 2007

Ivy@50: Cristina Teuscher

It was a decision that shocked everyone in the swimming establishment, or at least everyone who didn't know Cristina Teuscher.

Already among the most versatile swimmers in the world, she decided in 1996 to make Columbia University -- a school with little history of swimming success to that point -- her collegiate home. She had been to all the 'name' schools, but the trips all ended the same way: with Cristina coming back home and saying she didn't feel comfortable. But Columbia felt different.

A number of college coaches said she was effectively hanging up her suit, intimating that she could never keep pace with the world's best if she wasn't swimming against them on a daily basis. Her mother, Monica, said that one newspaper reporter called her crazy for letting her daughter cast aside either a full college scholarship or the endorsement money Cristina would have made as a professional.

"We didn't want to sell our daughter to a school," Monica says. "I told her, 'Forget the money and go where you want.' Looking back it was the best decision we ever made."

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