Home is Where the Cougars Are
Feb. 21, 2008
By Erica Beck
It's just about as big as the Continental Divide, the difference between living in Pullman as a high school student and then becoming an addition to the Washington State University college ranks.
If you had asked senior WSU swimmer Bryn Mooney five years ago if she would still be on the Palouse after her high school graduation, it would have been a resounding no.
"I swore I wouldn't stay," said Mooney who graduated from Pullman High School in 2004. "I had no intentions of staying here, and then I came on my recruiting trip. The team, the athletic and academic support, and the energy level and enthusiasm weren't equaled any place else I looked. I couldn't say no to that."
And so she stayed in Pullman. But even though she didn't leave the area, she did leave her home, moving into Regents Hall her freshman year and trying to make the most of her college experience even though everything she'd lived with the past four years was still in her back pocket.
"This town has a huge soft spot and a huge heart for anything Cougar. Everyone here is a Cougar," said Mooney. "I don't think I was that way until I enrolled in classes and actually became a Cougar myself."
Mooney began swimming lessons at a young age and when her instructor tossed out the idea of joining a swim team, she decided to try it out. After she began to succeed and make cuts for different meets, Mooney saw the potential for scholarships and more success; she hasn't stopped swimming since.
"I remember my first day of practice," said Mooney, smiling. "I was appalled at the idea of having to wear a swim cap. I thought it was ridiculous and that I would never wear one."
More than a decade later, Mooney has no qualms about wearing her swim gear and she doesn't struggle with her flip turns on the 100 butterfly, her favorite event because of her ability to utilize her powerhouse underwater kicks.
Outside of the pool, Mooney focuses on her academics. She is a three-time All-Academic selection in the Pacific-10 Conference and credits the Academic Resource Center (ARC) for her ability to focus on her studies while swimming at the Division I level.
"You don't have a lot of time to goof off and get distracted," said Mooney. "The ARC really helped me stay on top of my schoolwork. Also knowing that I could affect the team GPA was something that really motivated me."
Take one look at the curly-topped brunette, though, and you'll see fun and mischievousness emanating from her. Mooney loves to play tennis and hit the slopes on her skis. Coffee with her mom on Sundays, getting crafty with her sewing, knitting and painting and expending her seemingly boundless energy in the outdoors are only bits and pieces of the life of Bryn Mooney. She also enjoys punk and alternative rock music: Jimmy Eat World, Brand New and John Mayer are frequent artists on her iPod.
Now that Mooney is nearing the end of her collegiate swimming career, it's time to look forward. She'll be heading across the state to work in interior design and color theory at a place where she has interned the past two years.
Even though she'll be leaving her Cougar cap behind, Mooney won't be giving up swimming.
"I don't think I could ever just drop swimming and never go back to it. I definitely see myself doing masters swimming," said Mooney. "Give me about a month off and I'll be back in the water. It won't be at the same intensity level, but I love being in the water. I love swimming."
Another thing Mooney will be leaving behind is something that turned out to be much more important to her than she realized.
"I didn't really expect having my family so close to be the big blessing that it was," said Mooney. "I was able to watch my brother grow up (he is now 15) and have my parents and grandparents in the stands. It really means a lot to me and it's something that hit me a lot harder than I expected."
Official Website of Washington State University Athletics | Bohler Athletic Complex | PO Box 641602 Pullman, WA 99164-1602 | 1.800.GO.COUGS