Ann Marie Wycoff ’85 had a problem.
She was an excellent swimmer, but there was no girls’ swim team at Stony Brook, nor would there be until 1987.
“All of the girls swam on the boys’ team,” recalled Ann Marie. “In order to make the State or County Championships, we had to qualify with the boys’ times and had to place high enough to go.” The only option she had was to beat the boys.
Despite competing against boys during her entire Stony Brook career, Ann Marie excelled. During her sophomore season in 1982-83, she finished undefeated in League II, qualified for the County Championships in the 200 yard medley, and qualified for the Junior National Championships in Gainesville, FL. During her junior season she qualified for both the County and State Championships, helped lead the team to the Division II co-championship, and placed 2nd in the 200 butterfly at Junior Nationals. Her outstanding season earned her the 1984 Swanson Swimming Award. In her senior campaign for the Shrikes, she led the team to a second consecutive Division II crown as the team built a divisional record 23-meet unbeaten streak. At the County Championships she earned her highest individual finish with a 3rd place showing against an all-male field, which helped her earn a third consecutive Swanson Superior Performance Trophy at Class Night. She closed her career by qualifying for a third straight Junior Nationals and earning a place on the All-America team.
Despite her incredible career for the Brook, Ann Marie’s name is conspicuously absent from our swimming record board. As she recalls, “The girls’ and boys’ records were compiled onto one scoreboard as team records. When a girls’ team was established, all of my records were wiped away because I competed on the boys’ team. When I was told that, I grinned. My father used to say, ‘Records were made to be broken!'”
Ann Marie’s sensational career continued at West Point where she immediately set herself apart as one of the best swimmers in Division II. In 1987 she became the first Academy woman to win an individual National Championship, taking the crown in the 400 individual medley. The next year she won four individual National Championships in the 200 IM, 200 butterfly, 400 IM, and 1,650 freestyle and was named the Most Outstanding Swimmer of the NCAA Championships. In 1989, her final season at Army, she repeated as a four-time National Champion, setting three Academy records in the process as well as the NCAA Division II record in the 400 IM (4:25.45). She also kept her title as Most Outstanding Swimmer of the Championships, and almost single-handedly earned Army a 4th place finish despite the team having only eight total athletes in competition. At the close of her career, her nine individual National Championships and 19 All-American nods made her the most decorated athlete in Academy history. She also finished as the winningest female swimmer in NCAA Division II history. In honor of her accomplishments for West Point Athletics, she was given the Army Athletic Association Award for most valuable service to athletics during her Cadet career.
In 2004 her place in West Point lore was cemented when she was included in Army’s inaugural Hall of Fame class which included “Doc” Blanchard, famous for winning the Heisman Trophy in 1945. She was also inducted into the Suffolk Sports Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Stony Brook School Hall of Fame in 1997.
To this day she continues to hold four individual Army records and is on the Top 10 list for seven different events.
After graduating from West Point, Ann Marie’s love for the water did not diminish. While stationed in Germany, she coached in the military American League for the Wurzberg Waves. After returning from serving in the Persian Gulf War she was transferred to Ansbach, Germany where she coached a swim team for German children and continued to compete, fitting in pool time around field training and deployments.
After returning to the states, she continued to coach and even had the opportunity to train her two daughters. She coached teams in Georgia, New York, and Colorado and had former swimmers compete at Junior Nationals, Olympic Trials, and the Olympics. She eventually gave up coaching when her girls entered middle school and “needed more mom time and less coach time” as she puts it.
Ann Marie is currently a dedicated elementary school teacher who hopes to obtain her administrator’s license by this summer and a second Master’s Degree by next year. As she puts it, “I am now as dedicated to my students and the art of teaching as I was to swimming.” Based on what she was able to accomplish as a swimmer, she has some very lucky students.