Stephanie Wriede Morawski
Swimming & Diving - Hall of Fame Class of 2007
Harvard Athletic Achievements
Stephanie Wriede Morawski remains one of Harvard Women’s Swimming top all-time performers. The current Head Coach of Harvard Women’s Swimming & Diving Team, Stephanie began to make her mark in 1988, when she first qualified for U.S. Olympic trials. She would go on to re-qualify for the 1992 trials. During her four years at Harvard, Stephanie helped the swim team to a combined dual-meet record of 33-3. She was a three time Eastern champion, (200 yard individual medley in 1991 and 1992 and the 200 yard freestyle in 1992) and held the school record in the 200 breaststroke until 2006. Stephanie was the 1992 Co- Radcliffe College Alumnae Association Award winner as Harvard’s top female student-athlete along with fellow inductee Ceci Clark Enge. Also a team captain, Stephanie ended her senior year of competition at Harvard as the 1992 Eastern Women’s Swimming League Swimmer of the Year after personally notching 57 points in the Crimson’s effort that culminated in an Eastern Championship’s title for the team. Twice selected as an All American, and a three time NCAA Championship qualifier, Steph also received a world ranking in the 200 meter breaststroke in 1991.
Remembering Harvard Athletics
When asked why I decided to become a swim coach, the answer is simple: my team experience at Harvard. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was gaining more than great friends, a supportive coach, and a multitude of victories. It was when I left the halls of Harvard and distanced myself from the sport of swimming that I began to understand just how much I had learned.
My experience returns to me as a series of sensations: the strange quietness as I cross the bridge at 5:30 in the morning, the rush of the water as I enter the pool, the conversations carried out in ten second intervals between repetitions, dancing on the bus after a win, laughing until my sides hurt, screaming on the sidelines for my teammates. While I received an unbelievable academic education at Harvard, it was my experience on the Boston side of the river that taught me how to live my life.
Swimming has always been a passion of mine, but at Harvard my participation became more about performing for the team than achieving best times. In this way, I learned one of my biggest lessons in life: take risks. Whether it was trying a new interval in practice, swimming an off event for the sake of the team, anchoring a crucial relay, experimenting with a different race strategy, or jumping off the diving platform with my classmates, the attempt was always more important than the outcome.
The next important life lesson garnered through swimming came directly from my coach, Maura Costin Scalise; and, I suppose, my desire to return to this sport is a tribute in many ways to her. Maura taught us that swimming should be fun and attitude is everything; after all, it is just a sport. If you focus on the enjoyment of the race or the challenge of making an interval in practice, while fully supporting your teammates, then it will ultimately lead to better performances than if you take yourself too seriously. With this attitude intact across the board, our team won three out of four Eastern titles.
The last life lesson that I learned from Harvard Swimming is that success is not achieved independently. I am extremely proud to have represented the Crimson as a swimmer and am truly humbled by this induction into the Harvard Athletics Hall of Fame. However, this honor should also be shared with everyone who supported my individual quest and our team goals: my parents, grandparents, and siblings who consistently smoothed out the highs and the lows helping me maintain perspective; my college friends who may have questioned the whole “taper and shave” thing, but ultimately displayed excitement at meets and lightened every mood; and, of course, my teammates who pushed me to the limit in practice everyday so that we could all excel.
To this day, I am still receiving support and am thankful to my husband, Mike, for his essential understanding and unfailing pep talks as every coach needs a coach of their own; and, to my daughter, Madeleine, who provides me with a fresh perspective each day and balance in life.
Congratulations to all the 2007 Varsity Club Hall of Fame inductees. I am awed to be among you.