Stacey Duncan McHale '92
Swimming & Diving - Hall of Fame Class of 2007
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Even amidst a note-worthy period of success for Harvard Women’s Swimming, Stacie stood out as a true achiever. As a freshman in 1989, Stacie captured the Ivy League Championship in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:53.68, only to go on and recapture the title a year later in a time of 16:43.48. In 1992, she set a school record in the 1650 with a blistering 16:34.06 and placed 8th at the NCAA Championship, garnering All-American status. Her record held until this past 2006-07 season. Stacie was a three time Ivy League Champion in the 400 individual medley, an event in which she placed 11th in the nation at the 1992 NCAA Championships and also earned All-American status. On top of her remarkable performances in the 1650 freestyle and the 400 individual medley, Stacie held the school record in the 1000 freestyle until the 2006-07 season.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
I would like to begin by saying that I am very honored and humbled at being inducted into the Varsity Club Hall of Fame. It is not everyday that you are recognized for doing something that you love. And it is not everyday that you get included with such a talented group of athletes. For me it caps what was already an incredible roller coaster ride, with all the ups and downs, and exhilarating rushes that come from unexpected sharp turns or the last corkscrew that you were not expecting. And for that I will always be grateful.
As long as I can remember, swimming was part of my life. It shaped who I am today, and who I will still become. Along the way, I had many incredible coaches; I traveled to interesting places; and I trained with inspiring individuals. I was very fortunate; I always had the support of my family, my friends, my teammates, and my coaches.
Like everyone being inducted this year, I have many people I would like to thank. It is not difficult though to know where to begin . . . everything I achieved begins with my parents, Ed and Kathie Duncan. For eighteen years, my parents always supported and encouraged me. They drove to me to early (4:00 am) morning workout; they celebrated my successes; and they shared my disappointments. While at Harvard, they traveled to championship meets, and occasionally surprised me by showing up in Ithaca, NY in February for a dual meet. I still remember my first championship meet with Harvard. It was held at Penn State. My parents had flown in from California, and did not know what to expect when they saw me swim. In the year prior to coming to Harvard, swimming had become a chore and it was no longer fun. My parents knew that I was unsure about swimming all four years in college. After the meet I learned from some of the other parents that during my mile race, my father had walked all 66 laps at the top of the stands and my mother had watched the entire race through her fingers because she had been covering her eyes. They had been so nervous for me. My success and happiness have always been the most important things to my parents. I will always cherish knowing that they care about my well being first and I will always be thankful for their unwavering support. This honor not only recognizes my successes, it also recognizes my parents who encouraged me to swim and eventually to attend Harvard.
Next, I need to thank Maura Costin Scalise, a high energy, wacky, and dedicated coach. She brought out the best in me. Maura not only knew how to challenge and motivate me; she also reminded me how to compete and rejuvenated my love of swimming. She reminded all of us time and time again, that if you were having fun, the fast times in the water would soon follow. I will forever be thankful for her support, her humor, and the occasional swift kick in the butt, which I needed and usually deserved. I will always remember fondly our time discussing strategy and her intense and contagious competitive spirit.
Finally, I need to thank my teammates. For four years, the women’s swim team was my family. I was inspired and supported by them. I have so many memories, but a few came rushing back when I learned about being honored in this way. I remember baking cookies in the tunnels of Lowell House with Mia Costello because she knew I was homesick. I remember jumping off the tower at Blodgett and training “au natural” on more than one occasion. I remember Stephanie Wriede, Ruthie Tannenbaum, and Whitney Rapp trekking up to Currier House in February with a frozen yogurt pie to celebrate my birthday. I remember get out swims and hellacious training trips. I remember dual meets and head to head races. I remember watching Stephanie qualify for NCAAs in a dual meet against the University of Houston in Tuscaloosa, AL. I remember exchanging wacky t-shirts. I remember seeing teammates cheer for me while I raced. I remember laughing. I remember a sense of belonging that I had never felt before. My teammates were there through thick and thin. My accomplishments are a direct reflection of their support and encouragement, and for that I will always be grateful.
Being inducted into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame is an honor that no words can fully express. I will always cherish my time at Harvard, my experiences with my teammates, and the incredible individuals that I met along the way. Tonight merely adds a final twisting loop to that exhilarating roller coaster ride that was Harvard swimming. Thank you.