Pablo Morales coaching young San Jose Aquatics

The tall coach is a picture of enthusiasm as he stands pool side, gesturing to a young swimmer Saturday afternoon at the Carson City Aquatic Facility.

Then again, Pablo Morales doesn't seem to have lost any of his passion for the sport. Still one of America's most recognizable swimmers, he remains active both as head coach of the San Jose State University women's program and as coach for San Jose Aquatic Club, which is in Carson City this weekend competing at the Pacific Swimming Short Course Senior Championships.

"It's nice working with young kids who are focused, who are committed and who train hard," said Morales, now 35. "And as long as they're willing to train hard and to do what it takes to get to a higher level, that's always a joy."

It's the same enthusiasm that propelled Morales through a distinguished career in which he won three Olympic gold medals and finished as the most successful male swimmer in NCAA history while at Stanford.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Morales won gold in the 400-meter medley relay, plus he earned silver in the 100 butterfly and 200 individual medley.

After that, he led Stanford to three straight NCAA team championships (1985-87) and won an NCAA record 11 individual titles. He was also an academic All-American ran a community service program for high school students.

Morales set a world record time of 52.84 in the 100 butterfly in 1986 that stood for nine years, but then was unable to qualify for a return trip to the Olympics in 1988. After taking three years off from competition to concentrate on law school, he came back to earn a trip to the 1992 Olympics - he was the U.S. team captain - and win gold medals in the 100 butterfly and 400 medley relay.

Later, Morales earned his law degree from Cornell in 1994 and then returned to swimming in 1997 as Stanford's assistant men's coach. He took over as San Jose State's head women's coach in 1998, and earlier this year, was named Western Athletic Conference Women's Swimming Coach of the Year.

Where does he find the time to handle the chores of coaching a Division I college program as well as for San Jose Aquatics?

"It means a lot of time on the pool deck and fortunately I have enough help between San Jose Aquatics and San Jose State University that I can handle both programs," Morales said. "This is just the first year I've coached both programs, but Ray Looze for Tiger Aquatics has been coaching the UOP (University of Pacific in Stockton) program and the club program for a few years. He's been able to survive, so I look to him for my inspiration."

San Jose Aquatics had some highlights on Saturday. Kiana Taheri, who is headed to Rice University next year, placed second in the women's 50-yard freestyle - only four-hundredths of a second behind Kate Hardt of Carson City and the Reno Aquatic Club. Arizona State University bound Bobby Crowder placed second in the men's 200 freestyle while his younger brother, Richie Crowder, placed fourth. And Brooke Wells, who will compete for Morales at San Jose State next year, placed fourth in the women's 1,650 freestyle on Friday.

Just in case anyone may be wondering, Morales says he plans no more comebacks himself.

"No more. I think I've milked it for all it's worth," he said with a smile. "It was a great ride while it lasted. I have no regrets and I'm happy about every aspect of my career."

These days, Morales enjoys his time as coach - and as a family man.

"No, that's not true. I have a 2-year-old and it's a great time," he said. "There's no joy that I've experienced in my lifetime that compares to fatherhood."

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