Deb Gruen
Deb Gruen
Year: Sr.
Hometown: Hamden, Conn.
High School: Hamden Hall Country Day School
Position: Breaststroke/Freestyle

Deb has competed for Hamden North Haven for the past twelve years and qualified for her first United States National Disability Championships at the age of 12. At the meet, held in Indianapolis, she set her first National Record in the 100-meter butterfly. She went on to qualify for the 2002 IPC Swimming World Championships in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, where she finished 4th in the 400-meter Freestyle, 5th in the 50-meter Butterfly, and 6th in the 100-meter breaststroke.
 
After two years of training Deb earned a spot on the 2004 U.S. Paralympic Team. At the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece she won a bronze medal in the 100-meter breaststroke. Her most memorable experience in swimming was watching the United States flag being raised during the medal ceremony for the breaststroke, and looking out into the stands to see the supporting faces of her team and family.
 
In 2006, Deb set new world records in the 1500-meter Freestyle and the 200-meter breaststroke at the U.S. Paralympics Swimming National Championships in San Antonio, Texas.  Deb returned to the Paralympic Games in 2008 in Beijing, China where she again earned the bronze medal in the 100-meter breaststroke.
 
In 2008, Deb set a World Record in the 200-meter breaststroke and qualified for the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China.  At the Games, she finished seventh in the 200-meter IM and earned a bronze medal and an American Record in the 100-meter breaststroke.  She chose to remain in China following the Games in order to study Chinese at Peking University (PKU) through the Yale-PKU Joint Undergraduate Program.
 
In March 2009, Deb swam at the Can-Am Championship in Portland, Ore., setting a world record in the 400-meter IM.  She then went on to win a silver medal in the 100-meter breaststroke at the Paralympic World Championships in Manchester, England, in late May 2009.
To date, Deb has set five world records, including the 200-meter breaststroke from the 2008 Paralympic Trials, the 1500-meter freestyle from the U.S. Paralympic Swimming National Championships in 2006, the 800-meter freestyle at the Can-Am Championships in 2008 and the 400-meter IM at the Spring Can-Am Championship in 2009.
 
Deb finished her Yale swimming career by qualifying for the 2010 International Paralympic Committee World Championship team in April.  She also earned the university-wide Amanda Walton courage award at Commencement.
 
Aside from swimming, Deb was named as a Rhodes Scholar finalist in 2009 and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 2010.  She plans to attend Georgetown Law next year.
 
Before Yale: Deb was the Valedictorian of her class and was twice named a USA Scholastic All-American. She was also a member of the Cum Laude Society, and a recipient of the Rensselaer Medal, the Yale Book Award, and the Governor's Coalition for Youth with Disabilities Award. She was also a two-time CT Scholar Athlete, and was named a 2006 New Haven Register Youth of the Year. 
 
Personal: Her sister, Michele, is a senior at the University of Rochester where she is an American Sign Language major, and member of the Varsity Swim Team. Her mother, Susan, is the Town Attorney of Hamden, and her father, Jeff, is a Neonatalogist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Genetics, and Investigative Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine
Deb is a senior in Morse College studying Economics.  She was recently a Rhodes Scholar finalist and spent a semester studying at Peking University, despite barely speaking a word of Chinese at the outset.
 
Why I Chose Yale: “I chose Yale because of its friendly atmosphere, abundance of teamwork, and excellent combination of athletics and academics. Although I have lived in the neighboring town of Hamden my entire life, I am still astonished by how beautiful the campus is on the inside of each Residential College.”

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