Female swimmers, like figure skaters and gymnasts, are the wunderkinds of the sports world. They seem to blossom into dynamos well before other athletes. So it was with Genny Mulderjg Allard. She swam her first competitive race at the tender age of 5, as a member of coach John Culhane’s Cedar Hollow Swim Club in Suffern, and went on to perfect her stroke at Marty Silverberg’s Rockland Swim School at the old Bader’s Hotel pool in Spring Valley.
“I loved going to his swim school because his son Andy and I would giggle and laugh and have ridiculous fun during practice,” Mulderig Allard says. “This often did not make Marty very pleased but it was this sense of fun that kept me coming back for more.”
She must have been having a ball by the time she reached eighth grade, when she made the Suffern High School varsity.
She continued her promising progression through her senior year, when she set a New York State scholastic record en route to winning the state 100-yard back stroke title in the fall of 1980. Mulderig Allard also gained All-America recognition in that event.
Mulderig Allard earned a full athletic scholarship to Villanova and proceeded to capture a national title as a freshman. In the spring 1982 AIAW Division II national championships, she won the 200-yard individual medley-which consists of consecutive backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle legs-and was runner-up in the 200-yard backstroke and 400-yard individual medley. The AIAW-Association of Inter- collegiate Athletics for Women-was the collegiate governing body for women’s sports until 1983, when the NCAA expanded its scope to include women’s athletics in addition to men’s.
Mulderig Allard was a four-time Division II All-America at Villanova, a Big East finalist in 1983, 1984 and 1985, and was the school record-holder in the 200 backstroke from 1982 to 1991. She was inducted into the Villanova Varsity Sports Club’s Hall of fame in November 2000. “There’s nothing like being part of a team,” Mulderig Allard said in a Journal News article after her Villanova Hall of fame induction. “People ask me what my best event was but I don’t even remember that. I do remember everyone I swam with.”
While at Suffern, swimming under the programs of Mountie coaches Pete Birmingham (for her first three years) and Mike Korotkow (for her junior and senior years), the then-Genny Mulderig enjoyed a stellar five-year varsity career in which she placed in the top four at the state championships four times. Besides her 100-backstroke triumph, she placed third in that event in 1979 finished fourth in the 500- yard freestyle in 1977, and fourth in the 200 yard individual medley in 1980.
Mulderig Allard also racked up three gold medals in Section 9 competition, winning the 1977 500-yard freestyle and the 1979 and 1980 100 backstroke events, in addition to posting three runner-up finishes. (Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties constituted Section 9 before Rockland realigned into Section i with Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess, in 1983-84.)
Of course, most swimmers compete not only during the high school season but also for their club teams out of season, and Mulderig Allard was no exception. She swam with coach frank McElroy’s Paramus Red Wave seven days a week, sometimes logging 1 hour sessions at 5:30 a.m. before returning for a three-hour regular practice after school.
Mulderig Allard qualified for the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior Nationals in the 200 backstroke in 1979 and 1980, and placed in the top 16 in three relays-the 400 medley, 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle-in the AAU Senior National Relay Qualifier in the summer of 1980.
Swimming records tend to be broken regularly because of continual advances in training methods, but Mulderig Allard’s name is still etched in the Suffern record book in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley-23 years after she set those marks.
After college, Mulderig Allard earned a law degree from Seton Hall University and married Andy Allard, Suffern class of 1979, who was a Suffern lacrosse, soccer and football player and who also played lacrosse for Princeton; Genny and Andy competed together in half-marathons and triathlons, and Genny even completed a marathon–she ran the 2001 Philadelphia Marathon in 4 hours 53 minutes with her training partner, Linda McGovern Walters, a summer age-group league swimmer who attended Albertus Magnus. Mulderig Allard also coached the Ridgewood, N.J., YMCA Masters swim team from 1989 to 1999, and competed in the Masters YMCA Nationals in the early 1990s.
Besides working part-time for the Village of Ridgewood as the public defender, Mulderig Allard, who is 39, now devotes the majority of her time to her two children, Jack, 9, and Katie, 5. Jack is a lacrosse, soccer and baseball player who also placed fourth in his age group in diving in Bergen County in 2000 and 2002. When Genny asked her son why he didn’t try out for the summer swim team, he replied that “swimmers work too hard” and he wanted to be on the diving team, “where the kids always had fun.”
“I couldn’t argue with that logic,” Genny says. Katie, on the other hand, loves to swim, plays soccer and lacrosse, and is “a very good Irish step dancer,” says her proud mom.