Fresh off of a transfer from No. 7 USC, Caitlin Tycz ’22 has set her sights on propelling the Yale women’s swimming and diving team to new heights.
As one of a handful of transfers in the history of the women’s swimming and diving program, Tycz has raised the hopes of many Yale fans. Recovering fast from a year-long ankle injury, Tycz has already made a large impact on the team dynamic with her infectious enthusiasm and wealth of experience. Although she has a long list of personal accolades, she is focused on helping Yale capture an elusive Ancient Eight championship this season.
“[Tycz] leads by example but also has a way to personally connect with the team to give them confidence,” head coach Jim Henry said. “She is a fierce competitor who exudes humility and grace at all times. We are so happy to have her here.”
Hailing from Brunswick, Maine, Tycz first began swimming competitively when she was seven. She gained early exposure to high level competition with her club team, Bath YMCA, and raced in national-level meets since the age of 12.
In 2016, Tycz qualified for the Olympic Trials. To qualify, she swam her 100-yard fly with a time of 52.43, setting a YMCA national record in the process.
“[My result] just proves that what you do in the beginning of the season, the middle of the season and the end really matters. Even if the rest of the week doesn’t seem like it’s going to add up, it usually does,” Tycz said.
In 2017, Tycz was named the Maine Sunday Telegram Girls’ Swimmer of the Year. She finished her high school career as Maine’s first four-time female prep All-American.
After graduation, Tycz was recruited by a number of colleges, including Yale, but ultimately settled on the Trojans. Despite qualifying for the 2018 NCAA Championships and earning CSCAA Scholar All-American honors during her two seasons, Los Angeles never felt like home to her.
“There was a fairly good balance between academic life and social life and swimming, [but] when I got there, things weren’t how I imagined them to be,” Tycz said. “Though the school was an environment where on paper I should have found success—and I did find success in swimming—it wasn’t somewhere that I felt like I would look back on and wish for the good old days.”
Last summer, Tycz followed the footsteps of backstroker Destiny Nelson ’20 — who transferred from USC to Yale in 2016 — and traded in the Trojans’ gold and cardinal cap for the Elis’ blue and white.
Though a repeat of Tycz’s personal best in the 200-yard fly would break the Ivy League record by nearly half a second, her decision to transfer had nothing to do with gaining a competitive edge, Tycz said.
“For me this is more of what I’m used to and more of what makes me feel like I’m a part of the community,” Tycz said. “Being a smaller school, I feel like the relationships that I have [here are] not just with my team, but with other athletes, transfers and people in my grade, [and that] is something that will last longer.”
Tycz’s adjustment to campus life has not just been about fitting in socially, however. Yale has a much later start to the season than USC, and has more regulations on the amount of time that athletes are allowed to spend in the pool.
Her ankle injury left her sidelined at the team’s first scrimmage meet against Army last weekend. She may continue to sit out less important meets to be at her best when it matters most.
That hasn’t stopped Tycz from making plans for the future, however. During her time with the Elis, she hopes to requalify for the NCAA Championship meet and gain a spot on the relay team. These personal goals, according to captain Kendall Brent ’20, align well with the rest of the squad.
“One of our team goals for this year is to have more qualifiers for the NCAA championships,” Brent said. “[Tycz] inspires us every day with her unrelenting grit and can-do attitude, and I know that she will inspire other team members to follow in her footsteps [to] qualify and place at the NCAA championships.”
The women’s swimming and diving team take on MIT next Friday in the first meet of the season at the Robert J.H. Kiphuth Exhibition Pool.
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