To honor 40 years of swimming and diving at the University of Arkansas, we took some time to get in touch with some former swimmers and divers to reflect on their time at the UA and find out where they are now. Becky Morrison (Ralph) was a member of the swimming and diving team from 1997-01 where she specialized as a sprinter.She was named the Rookie of the Year in 1997, Swimmer of the Year in 2001, Most Valuable in 2001 and was a team captain from 1998-01. During her time at Arkansas she recorded NCAA ‘B’ Cuts in the 50 free, 100 free and 400 free relay (2001). She was also a member of the school-record relay team in the 200 and 400 medley relay. She finished her stint at Arkansas with 58 career wins.
What made you decide to come to Arkansas and swim/dive for the Razorbacks?
Arkansas was the last recruiting trip I went on.I was very impressed with the facility and the university.I thought it was a better fit for me and I didn’t want to go where there would be several feet of snow in the winter.I had narrowed my choice down to the University of Wyoming and Arkansas.I also wanted to compete with the best of the best and knew the Southeastern Conference would provide that. Was it hard to leave home and come to Arkansas? How did your parents react?
It was not hard for me to leave home at first.I grew up in Colorado and was ready to get out on my own.My parents were not happy to let me go 12 hours away but supported me.I quickly found out I had a lot to learn out on my own and had a new appreciation for all my parents did for me. What was your most memorable moment while on the team?
I have two most-memorable moments. The first was training trip in Coco Beach, Florida.We had a meet against CSU (Colorado State University). Their coach had told me, while I was a senior in high school, that he was not impressed with me but would let me walk on the team because he was friends with my year round coach.I raced his girls on that training trip in the 50 and the 100 free and beat them all.I made sure our coach reminded him I was not good enough for him a few years before. The second was making the SEC finals in the 100 free my senior year.It was very exciting to race and have all your hard work pay off. How did being a member of the team help you through college?
I made some great friends that we still try and keep in touch through social media.We supported and encouraged each other, helped each other through any problem we may have had.We had a family away from home and a great support system.We had a place we belonged and could be ourselves. Many girls were very far away from home and we would spend breaks together.
What was your biggest individual and team accomplishment while at Arkansas? My biggest accomplishment was placing eighth at SEC Championship in ’01, which was a top-5 time in the 100 free in school history until just recently. Our biggest team accomplishment was how far we came from my freshman year with only 12 swimmers and divers total to having to make the travel team my senior year.
While you were on the team can you discuss the impact it had on you while you were in school?
Swimming for the Arkansas allowed me a chance to volunteer in the community and meet some great people while furthering my education.Many people look at athletes are in awe, especially Razorback athletes.It was a wonderful feeling to see children’s faces just light up because you were a Razorback athlete and you were there to spend time with them. How did being a swimmer/diver at Arkansas help/impact you later on in your life?
I think swimming helped me later in life to work with a team and solidify my career choice. What was your major?
I was an Elementary Education major and went on to get my Master in Education also from the University of Arkansas. Who was your coach at the time and what was he/she like?
Anne James was my coach all four years.She never yelled at us even when we swam bad which was not what I was used to.Anne’s daughter now swims for my year round coach in Colorado. What do you do know and where to you live?
I am a fifth grade math teacher in Farmington Schools and I live in Fayetteville.My husband was a walk-on football player and we meet while volunteering for AAO while we were in college.He graduated from Farmington High School and now we both work for Farmington School.We have two children Scout (7) and Sadie (4).
Additional 40 years material:
Tara Blankenship (Reynolds)