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Hilary "Huddie" Murray, in Her Own Words

Swam a 200 fly 7 months pregnant!

Huddie Murray | May 28, 2005

Hilary "Huddie" Mary Walsh Murray was born in 1956 in Bryn Mawr, Pa., and grew up in the Philadelphia suburbs of St. Davids and Haverford.

Huddie writes: "Our large family (15 kids!) belonged to a country club, and we all swam on the team. I must have started at six, at the latest. I don't really remember. I was somewhat reluctant to be on the team, if I remember correctly. (And that would fit my personality - not really being eager for a change or to try new things). We had a great time in summer league, and often participated on relays with siblings and cousins.

I honestly don't remember my first AAU meet, but I know I competed as a 10 and under. I may have been seven or eight when I started year round. I do recall going to practices at a pool we called "The Aquarium" because it used to be just that. The door to it opened and overlooked the Schuylkill River in downtown Philly. We swam for Vesper Boat Club. My first coach there was Dave McIntyre.

As the years passed, we trained at University of Pennsylvania and Kelly Pool. For most of my time at Vesper, George Breen was our coach, and the most influential in my swimming career. He kept things fun while still challenging us. I remember those years more fondly than any others in my youth—GREAT friends, goals, trips to swim meets, etc. I lived for swimming in those days. And my best friend, Maureen Mortell, even lived with our family so she could train with our team. What a wonderful life!

Most of the girls in the family attended a small Catholic girls high school, and there was no official swim team. There may have been one "invitational" meet per year.

When I first went off the college, very few schools had women's programs. I went to Cornell, and trained with the men's team, while attending the women's meets. (Hey, best of both worlds.) Bill Barton was my coach there. (And now he coaches down here in Texas in Corpus Christi. Small world!) Since I wanted to train with George during Olympic year, I took time off to do so in 1975 -1976. I was fifth in the 400 IM and eighth in the 200 fly at the 1976 Olympic Trials. "Close but no cigar."

By the time I returned to school in the fall of 1976, several schools were offering women's scholarships. (And regardless of the blame it is now getting for ruining men's programs, those Title IX motivated women's scholarships were like gold then.) I decided upon University of Florida and Randy Reese, where I competed for two years.

I finally finished out my "amateur" career at University of Texas, where I swam for Paul Bergen (but not for UTX) after the birth of my first child, Meg. Her father and I had married in Gainesville, Fla., in 1978. I had hopes of qualifying for Nationals and Olympic Trials in 1979-80, but it was not to be.

I landed a job as Assistant Women's Coach at UT, under Coach Bergen, and later with Richard Quick. Living in Austin came in handy when my sister, Stephie, forced me ...I mean, invited me ... to enter my first Masters Nationals at the Woodlands in 1982. I was 25, and just newly eligible to participate. She had a vision of several Walsh members competing, and indeed, the "Swimmin' Walsh Women" even had a photo in Swimming World that June, after four of us swam at the meet. Little did I know that six years later, in 1988, I would be co-meet director for the Short Course Nationals in Austin!

I kept swimming as I continued to have babies (turning a few indignant heads when I swam a 200 fly at seven months pregnant.) It became a challenge and a source of sanity! I liked competition then, and was able to go to many meets, including Nationals and even World Masters Games in Toronto in the summer of 1985 and Pan Pacifics in Indianapolis in October of 1989.

My most memorable Masters swims probably occurred at Pan Pacs, when I set short course meter world records in the 200 fly and 400 IM. Participating in meets with most of my sisters (Stephie, Minna, Bridget, Tez and Maura) has also been lots of fun.

To be honest, I have not competed in nationals in years. Getting away from home and orchestrating the care of the kids became more trouble than it was worth. My husband, ever the trooper, was always willing to do what he could, but it became increasingly complicated with so many. And when I see what has happened to my age group in the past five years (how FAST it is!) Now I'm afraid to go back. ;-)

Locally, the last meet I attended was Zones in 1999, where my performance under-whelmed me altogether. My time in the water lately has been low level maintenance. Sometimes I train with our Masters team, Star Masters in Round Rock, but often, just get in on my own. I figure that's the beauty of Masters—the ebb and flow of involvement. No pressure to stay with it day in day out, unlike the pressure of having a college scholarship or Olympic Trials hanging over you. If I want to jump in again, it'll be there... But I still have to be in the water, even if I'm not competing. I literally ache if I don't swim, and all other aspects of my life seem to fall apart when swimming is not part of my routine. I feel certain that I will return to competition again some day, perhaps when the kids activities demand less of my time and energy.

Early on, I was more involved with South Texas Masters and attended several USAS conventions. What a great time, with so many dedicated to the sport! And once again, it was a chance to hook up with two of my sisters, Stephie, and Tez, who were involved with their LMSC in the northeast. At various times, I served as Registrar and Top Ten Chair for South Texas, and served on the Legislative and Championship Committees at the national level. I helped write a Championship Meet Guide (which I'm sure has been totally revamped since then!) and I believe our Nationals in 1988 was the first to ask for a copy of the USMS card with entries, a requirement at most meets now. Putting on the Masters Nationals here in Austin in 1988 was a fantastic experience, and I feel, one of my biggest contributions to Masters swimming.

I have been married since March 1984 to Kevin Murray. We met when I coached and he swam with the Longhorn Masters at University of Texas. (That's why I can claim that I've always had the upper hand in the relationship.)

We have seven children; Meg, 24, Julia, 17, Peter, 15, Lesley, 13, Kate 11, Timmy, nine, Danny, seven. All are involved with the summer league team where Meg and I coach each May and June. Leslie and Timmy also swim year round with Lone Star A.C. in Round Rock, where they have both qualified for TAGS (state champs). Peter and Julia both swam high school, (though the high school swimming situation in Austin is somewhat lacking). Kate and Timmy also run, while Danny is still trying to figure out what he's going to do with his life. ;-)

When not carting kids to the next activity, I spend most days volunteering, either at one of the kids' schools, or with Lone Star, as their Support Chair (synonymous with "Fundraising"). Soon I'll even help our oldest daughter plan her May, 2003 wedding. I feel fortunate to not have to work in the "real world", at least not to the point where I have to put on nice clothes and pantyhose! At the moment I have plenty keeping me busy as Mom."

submitted by Dennis Wilson

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