Pablo Morales has resurrected the Nebraska swimming and diving program and added to his illustrious career by guiding the Huskers to six winning seasons in the last eight years. Under his leadership, Nebraska has returned to familiar heights and reached goals Morales hopes to extend as he enters his 11th season as head coach in 2011-12.
Morales has guided the Huskers to an impressive .662 winning percentage over the past eight seasons, including a 6-4 dual mark in 2010-11. He has led the Huskers to at least six dual wins in six of the past eight years.
Before Morales' arrival, such improvements would have been almost unthinkable after a short-handed Nebraska team was winless in 2001-02 (0-3). Three years later, NU raced to an 8-1 dual record in 2004-05 and became the first Husker swimming and diving team to win eight consecutive meets in school history. Most importantly, Morales led the Huskers out of the bottom of the Big 12 with a fourth-place finish in 2004 and a third-place showing in 2005. Nebraska has continued to move toward its goal of future dominance.The Huskers have history on their side after winning five conference titles from 1994 to 1999.
A 1987 graduate of Stanford University, Morales is one of the greatest male swimmers in U.S. history, winning an NCAA-record 11 individual titles. He also helped lead the Cardinal to three consecutive NCAA titles and four Pac-10 titles, while twice earning Pac-10Swimmer-of-the-Year honors and garnering six Pac-10 titles himself.
Morales remains the all-time leading scorer at the NCAA Championships, amassing 235 points. Morales was also the recipient of the 1987 Al Masters Award, which is Stanford's highest award for athletic performance, leadership and academic performance. He was the first male swimmer to win the award, and remains one of two to have accomplished that feat. Morales holds the Stanford record in the 200-yard butterfly (1:42.60) and held the school record in the 100-yard fly (46.25) until it was broken in 1998 by Sabir Muhammad (46.18).
While at Stanford, Morales was awarded the J.E. Sterling Award, which is presented to a student-athlete based on scholarship, leadership and community service. In addition, he served as the director of the Stanford Volunteers for Youth Program. Morales also found time to become a mainstay on the campus newspaper as the beat writer for the women's basketball team.
A CoSIDA Academic All-America selection in 1987, Morales earned a law degree from Cornell in June of 1994, despite taking two years off from law school to train and compete at the Olympics.
An Olympic swimmer, Morales won three gold and two silver medals in the 1984 and 1992 Games, serving as a team captain for the 1992 squad. Following the 1992 Games, in which he returned to the pool after a three-year layoff to capture a gold medal in the 100-meter butterfly, Morales was named the U.S. Olympic Committee's Sportsman of the Year. He held the U.S. Open and NCAA record in the 100-yard fly with a time of 46.26, which stood for 13 years before being broken at the 1999 NCAA Championships.
Among Morales' greatest swimming accomplishments in the pool is holding the world record in the 100-meter butterfly with a time of 52.84 from 1986 until 1995.
Morales' legend in the Olympic Games lives on today, as the Nebraska coach served on the bid committee for the 2008 U.S. Olympic swimming trials that took place in Omaha. Morales had the chance to see the selection process and serve a role in the decision that gave Nebraska its first Olympic event in state history.
The Swimming Trials were a resounding success, and Omaha proved to be a worthy host for the event. The attendance at the Qwest Center Omaha broke records for the largest swimming meet ever held in the United States. Nine world and 21 American records were broken in the eight-day meet, and nearly half of the competitors set personal lifetime bests in ideal swimming conditions inside the arena.
USA Swimming has once again chosen Omaha to be the site of the 2012 Swim Trials, as the Qwest Center will once again be the focus of the entire nation in preparation for the 2012 London Games. For more information on the 2012 Olympic Trials, please see page 46.
Before coming to Nebraska, Morales served as the head women's swimming coach at San Jose State University. He held the reins as head coach from 1998 until being named coach at Nebraska in July of 2001. Morales rejuvenated a Spartan program that was near the bottom of the Western Athletic Conference. He was named the 2000 WAC Coach of the Year for his efforts.
While at San Jose State, Morales rebuilt a program and took the Spartans to the NCAA Championships after a 14-year absence. During his tenure, Morales produced six academic All-WAC swimmers.
At the 2001 WAC Championships, five Spartans set school records under Morales' supervision, and three met NCAA qualification times. Seven others swam times that placed among the top three in school history.
Before his stint at SJSU, Morales served as an assistant coach at his alma mater, Stanford, during the 1997-98 season, helping lead the squad to the NCAA team title.
Morales also served as a graduate assistant at Cornell while pursuing his law degree. While at Cornell, Morales prepared and coached daily workouts for swimmers and assisted in recruiting. Morales has assisted in coaching with the San Jose Aquatics club group, as well as serving as head coach of the Stanford Masters Swim Team.
For Morales, the opportunity to coach at Nebraska was a welcome challenge.
"As a coach, taking over the responsibilities at Nebraska represents a great opportunity to take a program with success and use the resources that only Nebraska can offer-the support from the athletic department, the University, the Lincoln area and the state to take the program to a higher level," Morales said after he was hired. "Our goal is to take this program to the elite national level."
A powerful motivator, Morales hopes to keep his swimmers on the top of their games in and out of the pool, as Nebraska has established itself among the nation's best in academic support and athletics. Over the past five seasons, nearly 80 percent of Morales' student-athletes have been named to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll each semester, including a school-record tying 25 in the fall of 2010. 25 students matches the high set in fall of 2007.
"I want our swimmers to achieve their goals of faster times and lifetime bests," Morales said. "I want them to have the best season that they have ever had, and I also want us to establish a team atmosphere and build an excitement toward Husker swimming and diving."
Former Stanford Head Coach Skip Kenny, who coached Morales at Stanford and also with Team USA, speaks highly of his former pupil.
"He's one of the most honest people that you will meet," Kenny said. "You will always get the truth out of him. He's very dedicated to the sport of swimming and to his athletes."
Kenny also recognizes Morales' charisma.
"As soon as the swimmers spend a few days or weeks with him," Kenny said, "they will see how much he cares about them and the sport of swimming."
Morales also gets a vote of confidence that he will be able to turn Nebraska into a national title contender.
"He brings a high level of experience to build up the team," Kenny said. "He's been there and done that as far as swimming is concerned. I honestly believe that he is a better coach than he was a swimmer, and that is saying a lot since he was one of the best swimmers in the world. He has done things with kids that I thought I would never see."
Kenny has confidence in Morales' one-on-one ability to work with student-athletes.
"If there is a female swimmer out there that wants to be the best in the world," Kenny said, "I'd send her to swim for Pablo."
Morales' experience as both an NCAA and international swimmer as well as a club and collegiate coach can only help him in coaching and recruiting.
"In my experiences, I have been fortunate to have had a long career as a competitor. I was able to train with coaches who I think are some of the best in the world," Morales said. "I have learned from them, and I have learned from myself. I believe that all of my experiences have prepared me for coaching. I have a good feel for the contours of teams that are successful. I know how they practice, train and compete."
In July of 2002, Morales named Doug Humphrey as his assistant. This season, Humphrey will enter his 21st year associated with the Husker swimming and diving program.
"Doug has a great deal of experience at Nebraska," Morales said. "He's spent a lot of time here. He knows the University and the area, and that is obviously a positive from a recruiting standpoint. I think that he is an excellent coach. He knows how to succeed, and he knows how to win."
Morales named former Olympian Natasha Chikina as the head diving coach in June of 2005. Through six seasons, she has guided seven Husker divers to 16 NCAA Zone appearances.
“She brings outstanding technical expertise combined with a tremendous coaching demeanor that will undoubtedly yield fabulous results at the Division I level,” Morales said. “She is the perfect fit to build on the success of her predecessors here at Nebraska and be part of our development into a championship-level program.”
A gifted and noted public speaker and lecturer, Morales was a contributing author to The Swim Coaching Bible, published in 2001. In April of 2007, he was chosen as the U.S. Swimming Diversity Select Camp Head Coach, a four-day camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Aside from in-pool training, Morales also led motivational and educational sessions and team-building activities to boys and girls from all over the nation who are part of an ethnically under-represented population that is less than 20 percent of the current USA Swimming membership.
Pablo is the son of Pedro and the late Blanca Morales, who came to the United States from Cuba in 1956. Morales and his wife,Viviana, have four boys, Sam (12), Benjamin (9), Eli (7) and Gustavo (1).
Morales was born in Chicago and grew up in Santa Clara, Calif., and enjoys golfing in his spare time.