Feb. 14, 2005
By Conor P. Laffey WSU Sports Information
The transition from Australia to United States might be tough for some, but for one Washington State University swimmer change is not a bad thing.
WSU sophomore Erin McCleave is making the smooth transition. McCleave, a native of Rutherglen, Australia, is already on the Cougar top 10 in six swimming events; 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle 500 freestyle, 1,000 freestyle, and 100 backstroke. She holds the school all-time record for the 200 freestyle (1:49.41). That may explain why she has had success in her favorite event, the 200 freestyle. Despite conquering the 200, McCleave feels the event she is most ready for in the Pacific-10 Championships is the 500 freestyle. "I feel I have been real strong in that, but hopefully by the time comes I'll be strong in my other events as well," McCleave said.
The reason for her success could be contributed to the words she chooses to live by. "To be the best that I can always be," McCleave said. Although a cliché, it is also shown in her practices. "She is the last one to leave," Washington State University Head Swimming Coach Erica Quam said. "She gets in extra stretching and really takes care of herself."
With McCleave's work ethic and talent she has proven her best is comparable with other elite Pac-10 swimmers. She believes the Pac-10 is the best swimming conference in the nation. "At Washington State I get to compete against 22 really fast girls everyday, back at home there is only one or two," McCleave said.
She feels the Cougars are ready for the Pac-10 Championships. "I think we're in for a good year, everyone is happy and training hard," McCleave said. "I think we're going to do really well as a team."
The adjustment from Australia to the United States has been a smooth one for McCleave. She was expecting a much bigger change then she has experienced. The culture shock never occurred. She says there are not many differences between her homeland and the United States. This could be due to the help of her teammates. When she first arrived on campus in fall 2003, her fellow Cougars welcomed her with open arms. "They took me around and showed me everything," McCleave said.
The differences in Australian competition and United States competition for McCleave are very few. "I've made national level in Australia, but the United States national level is a lot tougher," McCleave noted. She added the competition in the U.S. is just as good if not better than in Australia.
Even out of the water, McCleave knows WSU was a great choice for her. She is enjoying her classes, labs, professors, and feels there are opportunities to gain here. However, she is not looking too far into the future. After college the swimmer is not quite sure what will be next. She has pondered going to graduate school or heading back home to find a job. One day the Australian native would love to become part of the national team. "I think it's everyone's goal to swim and represent their country," McCleave said.
Even though McCleave is swimming as if she is on top of the world, she is still the girl from down under.