NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Senior Deb Gruen, a record-setting Paralympic swimmer, will receive the Bob Casey Courage Award from the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance at its annual dinner April 25. It is the second major honor for Gruen in recent weeks, as she has also been selected as a member of the U.S. team that will compete at the IPC Swimming Worlds in Eindhoven, Netherlands this August.
Gruen has set five Paralympic world records in various strokes at distances from 200 to 1,500 yards. Last spring she broke the world mark in the 400-meter individual medley at the Can-Am Championship in Portland, Ore.
Born with spina bifida, an imperfect enclosure of the spinal column, she uses two canes to get around on land. Even so, said Yale swimming coach Frank Keefe, “There's nothing that gets in her way. She makes up her mind that she's going to do something and goes after it.”
An economics major, Gruen excels academically and was a Rhodes Scholarship finalist. She lives in nearby Hamden, Conn., and is a graduate of Hamden Hall Country Day School.
The award she will receive is named for a former New Haven Register sports writer who died of cancer in 1994. In recent years it has gone to a male and a female athlete who have competed despite physical adversity. This year's male winner is John Tartaglio Jr. of Milford, Conn., an amputee who competed in the New York City Marathon.
Dinner tickets are $75 each and may be obtained by sending checks to Gold Key Dinner, P.O. Box 70, Unionville, CT 06085. Matt Conyers, (860) 874-4166, is dinner chairman.