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Rocco Aceto
Rocco Aceto

Head Coach

Fifth (North Carolina State '87)

Washington State Head Coach Rocco Aceto continues to inspire a winning attitude and set the standard for academic excellence in his student-athletes.

The Cougar coach's dedication to laying this foundation for success is evident through the numerous team accomplishments set in just four seasons at WSU.

Last year, Aceto guided the Cougars to new heights. WSU recorded its best dual-meet season in school history with nine wins, including the Cougars' first victory over intrastate rival Washington in a dual-meet. The team then went on to place seventh at the Pacific-10 Conference Championships, the best in program history.

Under his direction, the Cougars have qualified for the NCAA Championships four consecutive seasons, gained their first three-time NCAA All-American, and garnered recognition as the second best swimming team in the nation academically. His teams have also eclipsed school records 38 times and established 101 positions in WSU's All-Time top 10 lists in his four years with the team.

Heading into his fifth year at WSU, Aceto has well established his program in the Pac-10 swimming community and abroad. Aceto and the swimming program have become more visible on the national and international level due to the combination of athletic and academic success of his student-athletes.

Prior to his appointment at WSU, Aceto served for two years as the assistant coach for the men's and women's swimming programs at Auburn University. While at Auburn, Aceto helped implement and orchestrate one of the greatest sprint programs in collegiate swimming history.

Under the aid of Aceto's expertise, swimmers at Auburn fulfilled many dreams. Aceto witnessed his student-athletes achieve two Olympic gold medals, one NCAA team title, two individual and six relay NCAA titles, one U.S. Open record, one world best record and four World University Games gold medals. In addition, Aceto provided tutelage to 32 NCAA All-Americans.

Before coaching in the collegiate ranks, Aceto was a successful United States Swimming (USS) coach in Kingwood, Texas and Southern Maine. Aceto spent two and a half years as head coach for Blue Tide Aquatics in Kingwood, where his athletes won gold medals at the 1993 and 1994 Olympic Festivals and five gold medals at the 1994 Junior National Championships. His 1994 boy's team claimed the mythical high school national championship and was the No. 1 ranked public high school in 1993 and 1995. In 1993, his women's team ranked in the Top 10. His boy's relay teams still hold a national high school record in the 200 freestyle relay and held the 200 medley relay record for five years until it was broken this past year. While in Maine, Aceto's swimmers held every senior swimming record and performed at the state, zone and national levels.

He has been a two-time member of the Olympic Development staff at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., where in 1993, he was the youngest member on staff. Aceto has also served on the staff of the Eastern and Southwestern Zone distance camps, several Maine Zone staffs and several Texas Zone all-star staffs.

Aceto is considered to be on the cutting edge for world-class sprint training. His coaching style reflects upon proper nutrition and supplementation along with strength and conditioning. Aceto believes the swimming community has pushed the limits of physiology and technique. The Cougars have benefited from this addition to their daily routine and have seen much improvement in strength testing.

This confidence in health and wellness comes from Aceto's principles derived from the fundamentals of the sport of bodybuilding. Aceto is pushing the limits of eating well with daily supplementation and training - specifically in the state-of-the-art Cougar Varsity Weightroom.

His coaching philosophy reflects upon a fellow peer's advice to "help graduate your athletes, always be honest and never embarrass the university." Aceto will always remember his father telling him at a young age "you can't drink the chlorine." From this, Aceto has also coached with a theme in which "swimming is a part-time love, whereas, education is an everlasting process." With the many successes of his four seasons at WSU, Aceto holds true to the mindset that "intelligent people can be world class swimmers rather than talented athletes who just go to school." Swimming at WSU is about being a part of a program and team where grade-point average and graduation rates are emphasized on the highest level.

Aceto accomplished respectable marks of his own as a former student-athlete. He is a 1987 graduate of North Carolina State University, where he earned two bachelor's degrees in economics and business management. He held three N.C. State and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) records in the 50 freestyle and 400 and 800 freestyle relays. In 1982, Aceto graduated from the Peddie School. He was a member of two high school national record-breaking relay teams and earned All-American honors for three straight years. His laurels include scoring at Junior Nationals, Senior Nationals and in the NCAA Top 16.

Aceto is married to the former Mia Olore and currently resides in Pullman. He is also the proud father of a baby boy, Giovanni, who was born June 14, 1998. Rocco is originally from Portland, Maine, and Mia is originally from Presque Isle, Maine. He enjoys investing in the stock market and reading.


  • Led Washington State to the NCAA Championships four straight years.
  • Directed the Cougars to their winningest dual meet season and best finish at the Pac-10 Conference Championships in the 2000-2001 season.
  • Guided Erin Eldridge, Washington State's first three-time NCAA All-American.
  • Led the Cougars to breaking school records 38 times since the 1997-98 season.
  • Produced the Cougars' first NCAA Championships qualifier.
  • Turned the program around in his first year with a 5-2 record (.714).
  • Continues to keep the WSU swimming program among the nation's top academic teams as well as in the Pac-10 Conference and athletic department.
  • Camp Director of Cougar Swim Lessons.

    Year  School                W   L   Pct%
    1998  Washington State      5   2  .714
    1999  Washington State      6   6  .500
    2000  Washington State	    2   11 .154
    2001  Washington State	    9   3  .750
          Career Total         22   22 .500

  • Washington State Cougars Women's Swimming