inducted February 18, 2006
The swimmer glided through the lane in the Harvard pool, seemingly effortlessly, but with speed and grace unequaled by any of her competitors. It was the first collegiate race of Cristina Teuscher’s soon-to-be-storied career and Harvard’s women’s swim coach marveled at the sight.
“She makes it look so easy,” she said.
Easy. That’s a key word for one of the finest student-athletes in Columbia or Ivy League history. Easy to watch, easy to win with. Easy to depend on.
There’s more, though, than just athletic prowess. Easy to talk to, easy to listen to. Easy to be her teammate, easy to be her friend.
“We’re really going to miss her,” a couple of Columbia swimmers were saying, as Teuscher competed against Princeton in the final home meet of her career, four years after that initial race at Harvard.
Yes, someone agreed, you’ll never make up for all those points she scores.
“No,” one swimmer replied, “not for her swimming, or her winning, or her points. But for being our captain, our leader. Our teammate.”
The other swimmer nodded. “That’s right,” she said. “For being who she is.”
Cristina Teuscher today is a swim coach, a position she has held since last June. She spent the previous year traveling, after a two-year stint as an analyst with Ziff Brothers Investments, including eight months on the retail team at ZBI’s London office. After her 2000 graduation, she swam professionally and worked at the Robin Hood Foundation in their 9/11 Relief Effort.
She values those experiences. After several years in the business world, she has applied to graduate business school. After several months as a swimming coach, she points with pride to one of her swimmers making the Olympic Trials for 2008. Asked on a questionnaire for her greatest accomplishments since graduation, she cites two — one is “retiring from swimming and being able to come back and enjoy swimming from a coach’s perspective.”
Columbia and Ivy League swimming enthusiasts certainly enjoyed watching Teuscher swim, before, after and during her four years as a student. She won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the record-setting 800 freestyle relay in Atlanta even before setting foot on campus. Four years later, she medaled again at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, earning a bronze in the 200 individual medley and being elected captain of the U.S. team.
At Columbia, she was a two-time All-American and four-time NCAA champion. She won 12 Ivy League titles and set 17 Lion records; she still holds 11, noting that “I’m happy to say that some of my records have been broken. Go Lions!”
In four collegiate seasons, Cristina Teuscher never lost an individual race, including all she entered in the NCAA Championships.
Named the Lions’ MVP all four years, she was elected a co-captain as a senior. At the conclusion of that season, she received the Connie Maniatty Award as Columbia’s outstanding female senior athlete and the Honda Award as the nation’s top collegiate swimmer. She subsequently was voted the 2000 Honda-Broderick Cup as the best collegiate women’s athlete in the United States, the only Ivy League student to receive the honor.
In addition to her Olympic exploits, Teuscher spent seven years on the U.S. National Swimming Team and was a six-time national champion.
Even after graduation, Teuscher continued to make waves. In February, 2001, she made the largest wave of all, at least as far as her former teammates and Columbia’s future women’s athletes are concerned. She was guest of honor at the Inaugural Banquet of the Cristina Teuscher Women’s Intercollegiate Sports Endowment.The first of its kind at Columbia, the Endowment celebrates the best female student-athlete ever to wear Columbia Blue, and was established to ensure the success of all who will wear that uniform in the future.