RocJocks: Fencing sisters Felicia & Iris Zimmermann

Sean Lahman, Democrat and Chronicle Staff writer, December 12, 2014

In competition their styles were different, but sisters Felicia and Iris Zimmermann each dominated American fencing in their own way.

Felicia was the first U.S. fencer to claim the World Cup overall championship in the under-20 category. She was the first woman to win NCAA championships in both foil and epee while she attended Stanford University. She would go on to win the U.S. National Foil title 4 times. (1993, 1996, 1999, 2000), and made her first appearance in the Olympic games in Atlanta in 1996 at age 20.

Younger sister Iris joined her four years later on the 2000 Olympic team in Sydney. At the time the sisters were ranked first and second among U.S. fencers, and they led the American women to a fourth place finish, falling just two points short of a bronze medal.

Iris was six years younger, but had already established herself as fencer to be reckoned with. She was just 14 when she won a world championship in the cadet (under-17) category in 1995. It marked the first world championship ever for a U.S. fencer. She repeated the feat in 1997, and in 1999 became the first woman from the U.S. to win a medal at a senior level competition internationally.

The sisters grew up in Rush and graduated from School of the Arts and Stanford. Both were inducted into the US Fencing Hall of Fame Felicia in 2012 and Iris in 2013.

Today, the sisters run the Rochester Fencing Club on Culver Road, which they bought in 2009. It's the place where they each got started in the sport of fencing.

Each week, we recognize a great sports figure from the Rochester area. See the complete list at RocDocs.com/Athletes. Several readers wrote in to nominate Felicia and Iris Zimmermann, including John Garrett and Madeline Updike.

Whose name should we add next? Send an email to slahman@gannett.com with your suggestions.

SLAHMAN@Gannett.com