In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX, that is the primary entry in a GWsports.com collection highlighting exemplary alumnae who stay linked to the Buff and Blue reflecting on the previous, current and way forward for their applications.
The unmistakable buzz of meet day at Smith Middle Pool transports Denise Dombay again.
A lot has modified concerning the GW swimming and diving program since she was competing within the mid-Eighties, however there is a sure spirit that has endured throughout generations of Buff and Blue student-athletes.
“It is all the time been very a lot a household,” Dombay mentioned. “Seeing the camaraderie and assist that the swimmers have for one another is wonderful.”
Three-plus many years after commencement, Dombay is appreciative of the precious classes, profession alternatives and eternal friendships that this system has offered and grateful to nonetheless be a part of the household for a bunch that continues to blossom underneath Head Coach Brian Thomas.
“I consider GW because the place the place I grew into a lady,” mentioned Dombay, who nonetheless lives regionally in Gaithersburg, Md., whereas working as an government at a monetary non-profit and operating the high-tech swim college she opened in 2018. “That is the place I discovered about life. I discovered about myself and relationships and about being dependable and accountable and resilient. In so some ways, it is made me who I’m right now.”
For Dombay, Foggy Backside has felt like dwelling since 1984.
Rising up in suburban Philadelphia the daughter of two lecturers, she dreamed of attending a metropolis college on the East Coast with a powerful enterprise program. She discovered a match at GW because of a mix athletic and educational scholarship at a time when such alternatives remained comparatively uncommon a dozen years after Title IX was signed into regulation.
Again then, she joined a break up program underneath the course of Pam (Mauro) Ambrose, a younger and energetic chief contemporary out of West Virginia.
“Pam needed us to be good college students, wholesome ladies and good athletes,” Dombay remembered. “That is the inspiration this system was constructed on.”
A distance specialist who set this system document within the 200 IM, Dombay was a two-year co-captain for a bunch whose important targets within the pool have been taking down regional opponents in head-to-head competitors and cheering one another on to posting personal-bests. The highest performers completed every season on the Japanese Ladies’s Swimming League Championship.
The perfect recollections, Dombay mentioned, got here out of the pool, just like the annual season-opening street journey to Penn State, winter break coaching journeys and Saturday night time group gatherings. This helped forge relationships that stay sturdy right now, particularly along with her closest mates Liz Shapiro, Debbie Briggs, Claire Hinck and Nikki Whitlock.
“We had one another’s backs,” Dombay mentioned. “The minute we received on campus within the fall, we discovered the freshmen and made positive they have been settling in and transitioning safely to varsity life. We all the time be careful for and deal with one another.”
Dombay credit her swimming expertise with serving to launch her skilled profession.
After incomes her Accounting diploma, she leaned on classes about persistence and teamwork gleaned by sport all through her interview course of with the agency Arthur Andersen. In the end, she was supplied a job (in addition to a swim spot on the company sports activities battle group), and that chance set the course for her success within the trade.
By means of the years, Dombay has taken delight within the probability to pay it ahead to those that have adopted in her footsteps. She’s a member of the GW Athletics Advisory Council, sponsors a scholarship for the ladies’s program and has been an enthusiastic mentor to many student-athletes within the GW Faculty of Enterprise.
“For me, it has been nice attending to know the swimmers on a person foundation and following their paths,” Dombay mentioned. “It is their swimming path, which after all is thrilling and superior to observe, but additionally their profession path as they arrive out of college and begin searching for jobs and transfer on to greater and higher issues.”
Dombay’s swimming profession got here full circle 4 years in the past with the opening of her SwimLabs Swim Faculty. Her seek for an aquatics director grew to become a reunion with the hiring of Ambrose, who joined the varsity after a long term working for the Montgomery County Division of Recreation.
“We nonetheless speak about our days at GW,” mentioned Dombay, who stays an energetic competitor herself on the masters degree. “That connection by no means ends.”
Lately, former coach and pupil have marveled at a program that has taken continued steps ahead to change into the category of the Atlantic 10 and located a spot on the nationwide stage.
Dombay makes the brief journey to twenty second & G for dwelling meets each time she will and all the time logs onto the livestream of the A-10 Championships. The alumni Fb group was a flurry of exercise final February when this system made historical past with its first-ever sweep of the convention titles.
“There’s undoubtedly loads of delight across the program,” Dombay mentioned. “My mates and I all the time say that we might by no means have the ability to make the group now. It is simply nice to see that it has survived and it has thrived.”