Speedy Learning Curve Benefiting Cougar Swim Program

Dec. 18, 2000

Washington State swimmer Melissa Hubley is making up for lost time. With only six years of organized swimming under her belt, the Canadian sophomore's improvement has been rapid and her accomplishments great.

'I didn't start swimming until age 13, and even at that time I was still unfocused,' Hubley said. 'I really enjoyed swimming, but I hadn't set any goals yet. I was just having fun.'

Although she started swimming with club teams, Hubley said she did not begin to really get serious about swimming until age 15. And it happened when Hubley competed in her first big meet, the Eastern Cup, in Montreal. Swimming the 100 butterfly, she recorded the eighth fastest time in the preliminary round. This performance was good enough to qualify her for finals, but Hubley was relegated to lane eight with the slowest time of all the final competitors.

'I wasn't expecting anything,' she said with a smile. 'I was just there to have fun.'

Hubley's fun included dropping four seconds off her time and winning the race.

'I had no idea what had just happened.' Hubley said. 'People were saying I had just qualified for the Nationals, but I didn't even know what Nationals was. That really threw me into it. That's when I realized, maybe I can do alright in this sport. From then on, I started to get more serious about swimming.'

Hubley hails from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada, which is located on the Atlantic Ocean, a long way from Pullman. She was originally looking to stay near the East Coast, but wanted to keep her options open. When WSU head coach Rocco Aceto contacted her, someplace nearer the West Coast began to look pretty good.

'I really liked what he (Aceto) was saying about what he wanted to do with the team and what he thought I could accomplish,' Hubley said. 'I came to Pullman and really liked the team, and what I thought we could do.'

Hubley shattered the WSU record
for the 200 butterfly by nearly
six seconds her freshman year

Hubley's dedication to swimming has paid off. In her freshman season at WSU, she shattered the school record in the 200 butterfly by nearly six seconds at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships. At that same meet, Hubley helped the 400 medley relay team achieve a school record and recorded the third fastest time in school history for the 100 butterfly.

'Simply put, Melissa was blessed with talent and she did not realize how good she was going be,' Aceto said. 'She was fortunate enough to be able to join WSU and I was able to convince her that she was going to be one of my great ones.'

Despite this impressive freshman performance, Hubley narrowly failed to qualify for the NCAA Championships. That is why she has set her ultimate goal for this season on earning an NCAA Championships bid.

'I really want to make NCAA's this year,' she said. 'I missed it by only four spots last season.'

Hubley is again off to a good start this season, as her times have been dropping consistently, race by race.

'My training is going well and my times are right where I want them to be at this point in the year,' Hubley said. 'Our team is really meshing, and everyone is so excited. We're starting to see what we can really do.'

Hubley has helped lead the Cougar swim team to a 3-0 record in dual meets so far this year, including a huge 123-82 win over cross-state rival Washington November 16, WSU's first ever victory over the Huskies.

'Melissa has been able to handle the daily training regime at a more consistent level this year. She is much stronger as well,' Aceto said. 'The team is still learning. Some athletes are beginning to understand the demands of swimming at the elite level, and most athletes are being more consistent with their daily training. In summary, we are not where we need to be yet, we are better then we've been and thank goodness we aren't where we use to be!'

In addition to performing well for WSU, Hubley has also been swimming for her native country of Canada. At the Canadian Olympic Swimming Trials this year, Hubley finished 15th in the 100 butterfly and 16th in the 200 butterfly. While this performance was impressive for an 18-year-old, Hubley has set her goals higher for the next time around.

'There is another Olympic Trials the year after I graduate,' she said. 'Hopefully, I can give it another shot.'

'Melissa's experience at Olympic Trials sparked a great deal of enthusiasm to compete at the world-class level for her,' Aceto said.

Along the way, Hubley has had some key people helping guide her to success.

'Through my life, a major role model has been my dad,' Hubley said. 'He was a hockey player and is so motivating and focused on what he wants to accomplish. He has been very inspirational to me.'

Outside of swimming, Hubley is pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology. After graduating from WSU, she wants to get involved with natural medicine, maybe attending a homeopathic college to study medicine.

'Melissa maintains one of the highest gpa's on the team,' Aceto said. 'To me this is just as important as the level of her performance. I am a firm believer that a student needs to have their academics in order and everything else just follows.'

One thing that is certain is Hubley's plans to continue her involvement with swimming after graduation.

'It's such a big part of my life, I'd like to be able to continue to compete, at least on the club level,' Hubley said.

As long as Melissa Hubley is leading the Washington State swim team, improvement will continue to be a major theme around Gibb Pool.

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