WSU swimmer hopes to make a splash in final seasons


Junior Nicole Proulx practices in Gibb Pool, Monday, Jan. 27.

Junior Nicole Proulx primarily swims the 100- yard and 200-yard freestyle at Washington State, but it’s her experiences out of the pool that tell her story and offer up some of her best memories.  

Of those memories is a celebrity sighting during the team’s downtime at an invitational meet in Iowa.

“We’re waiting for the group of girls that were supposed to go back to finals and we actually were sitting in there and sitting in the same lobby as Macklemore,” Proulx said who was staying in the same area as the Seattle hip-hop artist.

“It was the most exciting and all of us were really pumped to swim and go to the show afterwards,” she said. “It was awesome.”

Proulx has really grown to love the time with her team while off her daily duty as a swimmer.

“So much time gets taken up. If you’re not swimming or going to school, then you’re doing something for swimming,” she said. “Just being able to spend time doing something outside of swimming with the girls and spending time at someone’s apartment is always lots of fun.”

Proulx said traveling is one of her interests as well. If she wasn’t in school she would be out exploring the world.

“I’d love to go to every place that just blows your mind,” she said.

Places with warm weather are her primary traveling targets, which reflect her Latin roots. Her mother is from Honduras, and Proulx herself is fluent in Spanish, which is something most people wouldn’t guess by looking at her.

“I’m the only one here in the U.S. from my mom’s side,” Proulx said. “So my whole family speaks primarily Spanish. Just by looking at me, I’m obviously white. I do not look Latina at all, but I speak fluent Spanish.”

In high school swimming wasn’t necessarily her cup of tea, instead it was water polo. To keep busy in the offseason though, it was either swimming or track, and Proulx said she couldn’t run to save her life. Thus, her swimming career began, which eventually led to a visit from swimming assistant coach Adriana Quirke and in Proulx’s words, “the rest is history.”

Her very first meet a Cougar, which was against USC, was an eye opener for Proulx. The spike in competition level was evident from the jump as she gave her best effort but doesn’t recall recording even a top-four finish.  

“You’re a hotshot back at home, but you come here and you have to be greater and bigger than you ever have before,” Proulx said. “Now, we raced UCLA who is a suggested strong team, and I placed first in the 100 freestyle, so it’s awesome where you were from the very beginning to where you are now.”

With the constant challenges being a student-athlete presents, Proulx has learned to overcome obstacles in a variety of ways and through those difficult situations, she said she’s become more focused.

“You come here from your high school to college. You think that you’re indestructible, or you don’t think about the consequences of something that may happen,” she said. “I think that swimming has really made me focus on the things that I need to do for later on in life.

Proulx said the importance of devoting time to her needs rather than her wants is one of the greatest things she’s learned.

As this current season winds down and her final year as a Cougar only a semester away, Proulx said she hopes to make an impact as a WSU swimmer that brings attention to the sport.

“I want to get up on that record board for my 100 freestyle. I want to do something for the University to show that swimming is an important sport here,” she said. “Not only for me to do it, but I want girls on my team to do it as well, to put us all on the map.”