DURHAM, N.C. – As the Blue Devils reflect on the past, present and future of the program, GoDuke.com will feature Duke swimming and diving alumni to highlight memories from their collegiate careers and the paths they’ve taken to success in their professional fields.
Jessica Lyden, 2008-12
Lyden was a standout diver for the women’s diving team during her time at Duke. The Louisville, Ky. native specialized on the three-meter springboard. Her first three years cultivated a rewarding and successful senior season where she took the ACC title on the three-meter board, scoring a personal best 365.95 in the event finals. She earned her first All-ACC honor of her career with this performance.
A stellar student in the classroom, Lyden was named Academic All-America First Team and Academic All-District in 2012 and an All-ACC Academic selection in 20019 and 2012. She was a four-time ACC Academic Honor Roll honoree (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012) and a three-time CSCAA Scholar All-America Honorable Mention (2009, 2011, 2012).
Lyden graduated from the university with a degree in psychology in 2012 before graduating from Duke’s medical school in 2018.
Where are you now?
Jessica Lyden: I am currently in Ann Arbor, MI for my residency in the combined Internal Medicine - Pediatrics program at the University of Michigan. I matched here for residency after completing medical school at Duke (’18)!
What is your favorite Duke Swimming and Diving Team memory and why?
JL: It is really hard to pick a favorite DSDT memory - there are too many from which to choose! Though my favorite DSDT season would have to be my senior year when I was finally fully recovered after bilateral shoulder surgery and able to travel and compete with my best friends again.
What is your favorite Duke tradition?
JL: My favorite tradition that the diving team created was Diver Brunch on Saturdays after morning practice. We either went to one of the many great brunch places in Durham (Elmo’s is the best!) or we cooked brunch together. Jordan Long would always make his family’s cinnamon roll recipe and it was delicious :)
What is your favorite spot on campus?
JL: My favorite spot on campus would have to be anywhere with a great view of the Duke Chapel. I absolutely love the view when you are coming around the roundabout and turning onto Chapel Drive.
Who was your favorite professor at Duke?
JL: My favorite professor was Dr. Keefe in the psychology department. He is incredibly kind and a wonderful teacher on the psychology of stress and resilience.
What was your favorite food on campus?
JL: My favorite food on campus would have to be anything from the Loop!
Who were some teammates who influenced you either in or out of the pool?
JL: I am very grateful to all of my teammates, both swimmers and divers, who helped ground me and support me throughout my 4 years, especially because I always put too much pressure on myself to succeed in both diving and academics. Of course I have to mention my now husband and former teammate, Shawn Hoffman, who has always been my rock. Julie Brummond, Abby Johnston McGrath, Cody Kolodziejzyk, Jordan Long, and Nick McCrory always inspired me in and out of the pool, supported me, and kept me laughing constantly! Lauren Gonzalez Williams was a wonderful role model and the most supportive “team mom" to us all.
What was your favorite or toughest DSDT workout?
JL: My favorite DSDT work-out was diving golf! Drew judged our dives during practice in golf terms (par, birdie, eagle, bogey, and hopefully not double-bogey) rather than numerical values. Also, every work-out with Carl in the weight room felt like the “toughest” - very grateful for him making me the strongest athlete I could be!
What lessons from your time as a member of the Duke swimming and diving team do you still benefit from or call upon today?
JL: My time as a member of DSDT taught me how to work hard for not only my own personal goals, but also to work together with my teammates toward the collective goals of the team. I learned perseverance and how to fight back after set-backs. I learned time management as well, and my teammates taught me how to find balance outside the pool and the classroom.
What advice would you give to future Blue Devils?
JL: My advice to future Blue Devils is to take a deep breath each day and appreciate how amazing you are. It is an incredible accomplishment to be a Duke student-athlete, and you are also your own unique person who has so much to bring to Duke and DSDT! You are also surrounded by a wonderful support system (coaches, teammates, alumni, athletic staff, and everyone on the academic side as well), who are all there to help you reach your dreams, and also to support you through whatever life’s challenges come your way. And while it is of course important to work toward your goals and vision, recognize that the time you spend together every day making memories with your coaches and teammates is even more important and meaningful than your measurable outcomes.