Susan Teeter, who has both guided 17 Princeton teams to Ivy League titles and earned the 2011 “Lifetime Achievement Award” by the College Swim Coaches Association, announced her retirement from coaching Saturday morning after an incredible 33-year run at Princeton University.
Teeter — whose Princeton career has also included 22 All-America honorees, two different win streaks that extended beyond 40, and more than 220 team victories — will coach the Tigers through the remainder of the 2016-17 season.
“While I have known this day would eventually come, it’s quite hard to believe it’s here,” Teeter said. “I have made the choice to retire from my head coaching position at the end of this season, even though at my age, retirement is not a word I plan to keep in my vocabulary. While I am looking forward to the next opportunities and challenges that await me, I will forever consider myself a member of the Tiger and PUCSDT families. I am so proud of the tradition and legacies that we have built here at Princeton, and I am so grateful for the relationships I have made and will carry on for the rest of my life. Princeton is such a special place, and it will always remain that way in my heart.
“I wanted to share my deepest appreciation for everybody who has played a role in this tradition we have built for PUCSDT,” said Teeter, whose full statement can be found here. “While we still have work to do this year, I know I can walk away from Princeton with a full heart, because we have created something that goes far beyond wins and losses, Ivy titles and All-America honors. We have created a family, a bond that our swimmers and divers will have for the rest of their lives, and one that I will have for the rest of mine as well.”
Her career has been nothing short of remarkable. Princeton’s all-time leader in wins, Teeter has racked up 223 dual meet victories to only 58 losses (.788), and she has guided the Tigers to an incredible 17 of their 22 Ivy titles, including 12 championships in the last 17 seasons.
“There are few coaches in the sport of swimming, or throughout the NCAA for that matter, who have had as much success as Coach Teeter,” Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux Samaan said. “She is a legend by all standards. Her talents and her impact extend well beyond the technical aspects of coaching, as she has truly changed the lives of over three decades of Princeton swimmers through her total commitment to developing the whole student-athlete.
“Her record speaks for itself, but her true impact is evident through the longstanding relationships she has developed within the department, the University and within the national and international swimming communities. Both Princeton Swimming and Diving and Princeton Athletics have been so fortunate to have Teeter on our team for so many years, and I am personally fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with her for the past two and a half years. I know she will stay forever connected to Princeton.”
“While replacing Teeter is an impossible task, we are 100% committed to hiring the next legendary coach of Princeton Women’s Swimming and Diving to carry on the mission of both Coach Teeter and the whole department,” Marcoux Samaan added.
Since the turn of the century, Princeton has put together a pair of remarkable streaks. During a seven-season stretch, her teams won a Princeton-record 47 consecutive meets, a streak that ended in 2004 at nationally ranked Pittsburgh. Princeton also won five consecutive Ivy League titles during that time period (2000-04).
Princeton won 43 consecutive dual meets during an era that featured the dominant career of Alicia Aemisegger ’10, who would go on to be named the GoPrincetonTigers.com Female Athlete of the Decade and remains one of the most accomplished swimmers in Ivy League history. Aemisegger earned 13 All-America honors, including one in the 800 free relay (2008), and she led the Tigers to three Ivy League championships.
Under Teeter’s tutelage, Aemisegger also reached 10 NCAA individual finals — she placed as high as second in two of them — won all 12 of her Ivy League championship finals and reached the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials final in the 400 IM, a race televised live on NBC. She ended her career with nine of the 14 individual Princeton records.
If people thought Princeton would fall off after Aemisegger’s graduation, they were mistaken. Princeton has won three of the last six Ivy League titles, and it sent two swimmers to the 2014 NCAA Championships. Lisa Boyce ’14 reached the NCAA final in the 100 fly to earn first-team All-America honors, while Nikki Larson ’16 made her debut at nationals.
“Being able to work with Teeter the past seven years has been an amazing opportunity,” associate head coach Suzanne Yee said. “Her passion for the family and tradition she has built here at Princeton, and her commitment to furthering young women’s coaching careers at the collegiate level is second to none. Teeter has continued to expect, give, and receive excellence – in the classroom, in the pool, and as young women.
“Her commitment to mentoring, team building, and success has taken this team to a level unparalleled in the conference, if not the country. I have been able to continue my learning curve on a daily basis working with Teeter, and I hope that I can leave a legacy in the lives of the student-athletes that I have worked with like she has done for the past 33 years.”
Her peers have taken notice of Teeter’s place in the sport. She was honored with the prestigious College Swim Coaches Association “Lifetime Achievement Award” in 2011, and she earned an American Swimming Coaches Award of Excellence five straight years from 2006 through 2010, as well as one in 2014. During the spring of 2014, she was voted president of the College Swimming Coaches Association of America. The CSCAA later bestowed the Distinguished Service Award in College Swimming.
Recently, Teeter was honored with both the United States Swimming Outstanding Women in Swimming Award, as well as the “Athlete Coach Exemplar” award; the latter was given by the HumanEx Culture Assessment Company.
“It is very hard to put into words all that Susan has done for the PUCSDT family during her time at Princeton,” head coach Rob Orr, Teeter’s teammate throughout all 33 years. “As in any family, both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams have always been a close-knit group. Susan’s constant guidance and support of working with all individuals of both teams has laid the groundwork for helping produce the best, most well-rounded student athletes and alumni in the country.
“The hundreds that she has come in contact with have had the opportunity of learning not only about training and teamwork, but more importantly the necessary skills to lead an enjoyable and productive life,” Orr added. “She will be sorely missed and we wish her the best.”
Teeter has mentored swimmers who went on to become Olympians, NCAA qualifiers, All-Americas, senior national/Olympic trial qualifiers, World University Games team members and Ivy League champions.
Teeter spent the summer of 2000 serving on the U.S. coaching staff at the Summer Olympics in Sydney and the summer of 1996 as the head manager of the Olympic team in Atlanta. In all, she has been on the staff of nine international swim teams. She served as a special consultant to Speedo USA for all Olympic and World Championships.
In the winter of 2000, Teeter’s senior class established the Susan S. Teeter Award, which is given annually to the senior class swimmer who, during her four-year career, distinguishes herself as an outstanding student and a valuable member of the women’s swimming team.
In 1988 she received the Master Coach Award from the College Swimming Coaches Association for her contributions to collegiate swimming. Teeter also was recently awarded the credentials of Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst by Target Training International, Ltd. An honorary member of both the Class of 1985 and 1986, Teeter is also a Certified Professional Values Analyst.
Princeton will hold a national search for Teeter’s successor.