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In three-and-a-half seasons, Alison Zegar has seen many of her friends leave the swim team and has not won an Ivy League meet since her freshman year, but still she swims Alison Zegar first jumped into the water at a neighbor's house when she was four years old. Following the example of her two older sisters who also swam, she stroked her way through middle school and high school swimming on the local YMCA team -- a team which won the YMCA nationals her sophomore year. "One of my greatest moments in swimming was at Y nationals when the 800 free relay placed first," Zegar said. "It was my first year being in this meet, and I was the youngest person on the relay. It was between me and another girl to race and the coach put me in it. And then we ended up winning the relay." "My freshman year, we won our first meet against Cornell," Zegar said. "It was very exciting, and it kind of stands out." Since then, it has only been close calls. One of those near misses came earlier this season at Sheerr Pool when the Quakers barely lost to Columbia, 151-149, December 9. "One of the hardest moments I've had is the Columbia meet," Zegar said. "It came down to me in the last relay. It is really hard to accept my leg was the difference between winning and losing, and I didn't come through." "She's a real example of toughness, grit, never say die, go after it and see what happens," Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert said. "Against Dartmouth, a girl moved up on her and turned at the 400 wall at the exact same time she did. It would have been easy for a senior, who has done so much for the squad over the years, to say 'Oh well, let her go, I'm trying, but I'll get second.' She just doesn't do that." One particularly difficult part of Zegar's career at Penn has been the program's struggle as many of her teammates have left the team since Zegar first joined the Quakers in 1992. "It's really hard because you look around and you remember the people who were on your team then and how good they were and how much fun they were, and then they're not there," Zegar said. "It really takes a lot away from a sport. But I just wasn't ready to quit. I definitely wasn't ready to quit after freshman year. "Then going back and swimming in the summers, when you have the time to take a break from everything else and just get back into swimming, it's a great feeling. I would get up at 6 in the morning, when I didn't have to, to swim. So I knew I loved it, and I just wasn't ready to stop yet. Some people were ready. Or they felt they would be happier not swimming than swimming. I would be happier swimming." Natural ability has been something Zegar has shown since her collegiate career began. She was named Outstanding Freshman in 1992 and garnered Most Valuable Swimmer honors as both a sophomore and a junior. But as a two-time team captain, Zegar has contributed more to the team than just fast times. "Whenever there was a meet on the line or we needed extra points, she would not only do it herself, but she would try to encourage the rest of the group to get going," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "I think Alison is a natural leader. She is in tune with her teammates, so she can lead by action, as well as by words." Zegar primarily races the 500- and 1,000-yard freestyles, but she loves the relays the most. "I like swimming because when you get up to race, it's kind of like a rush that I don't get from anything else," Zegar said. "So when you're in a relay and people need you, you know it's not only you. It's more of a team setting, and you're there to help your team out. So it just gives you more of a rush. Your adrenaline starts flowing, and that's what it all comes down to -- the excitement of competing." "She is a killer," Lawlor-Gilbert said. "She is as tough as anything. She really aspires to be the best she can be. We train her the best we can and then let her loose."

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