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Alumna Spotlight

August 2017

Spotlight Alumna Ally McHugh '15

Making a Big Splash!


Ally McHugh, Class of 2015

Swimming Her Way to National Standing, Competing Internationally

by Sean Clothier, Little Flower Swim Coach





Grade School


Ally McHugh, Class of 2015, swimmer's story is just spectacular!  Ally took to the pool at an early age. Even as a baby in swim lessons,

Ally was a natural.  As a kid, she became a standout swimmer for St. Jerome's.   Ally also swam for Lower Moreland Lightning, a year

round competitive program.  Here she first became exposed to USA Swimming, which allowed her to compete on the national level.


High School


Ally was sought after by every high school in the area, private and archdiocesan alike.  It was swim season.  So Ally came to watch LF

vs St. Hubert.   LF had never beaten St. Hubert.  And our girls swam the meet of their lives...they crushed St. Hubert's. Of course, Ally

and her Mom were very impressed. The Little Flower swimmers had displayed such great team spirit and a strong work ethic.


When one of our swimmers had a chance to speak with Ally, Ally shared how much she really liked LF. She came to an open house

with her mom. Ally loved the school and the swim program. That next day, Ally went to her regular practice at Lower Moreland wearing

an 'LF Class of 2015' shirt!  Needless to say, we were over the moon. As an 8th grader, Ally had times that were comparable to the top

times in the Philadelphia Catholic League. We knew then that we were going to have someone special swimming for LF.


In preparation to swim at Little Flower, Ally moved on to the Penn Charter Aquatic Club that summer.  Penn Charter took Ally to the next level

and it showed immediately for Little Flower Swimming. In Ally's very first meet, she broke the league record in the 100yd Freestyle.

This would be the first of many records Ally would break in her high school career.


Ally's freshman year was nothing short of astounding. She went undefeated the entire season, finishing with the top time in the league in

three different events.  She was also an integral part of LF's 3rd place overall finish, our best finish ever. Ally was the league champion in two events,

the 200yd Individual Medley and the 500yd Freestyle. This qualified her for the 2012 PIAA State Championships, the very

first Little Flower swimmer to do so. At State Champs, Ally just missed qualifying for finals, capping off an incredible year.


Sophomore year, Ally continued to dominate the Philadelphia Catholic League, leading Little Flower to its best finish ever.  Ally had the

top time in four different events and qualified again for the PIAA State Championships.  Ally was named to the PIAA All State Team, the

first in Little Flower and PIAA District 12 AAA history.


Junior year, Ally continued her dominance of the league.  In addition, the entire team had 'career' years. We had an undefeated season, going 10-0.

Ally again dominated PCL and PIAA District Championships, winning all of her events, qualifying her for State Championships for the third straight year. 

Another feather in LF's swim cap was achieved at this meet.  Led by Ally, the 400yd Freestyle relay team swam the meet of their lives!   

They knocked out Archbishop Ryan, the defending eight-year champions, by a single point, 456-455.

Thisqualified the girls for state champs for the first time ever.


At state champs, Ally again made the PIAA All State Team. That summer heading into senior year, Ally qualified for the US Olympic

Trials in the 400 meter Individual Medley. She was the first female swimmer in Philadelphia Catholic League history to qualify for this

meet, the most prestigious meet in the US, and second only to the Olympics.


At the 2016 US Olympic Trials, Ally swam very well, but she did not qualify for the Olympic team.  However, this 'elite' level meet was

a great experience for Ally and she was able to improve her positions in her events.


Senior year, Ally elevated her mark even higher on her legacy at Little Flower and in the Philadelphia Catholic League. She again broke league

records and again went undefeated.  She qualified for PIAA State Champs in the 500 Freestyle and the 200yd Individual Medley.   Ally gained PIAA

All State honors in the Championship heat of the 200yd Individual Medley.  In the 500yd Freestyle, Ally had the second fastest time in the sate, only

beaten by current Olympian Leah Smith.




Penn State was the choice for Ally when it came to college, as they have a great academic program and one of the best swim programs

on the east coast. Health issues prevented Ally from performing at her best in her freshman year.


But sophomore season, Ally was committed to making up for lost time. She had a breakout season, becoming a team leader in the pool.

Ally broke one Penn State school record (500m Freestyle), was awarded the Nittany Lion Award from Penn State, earned a silver

medal at Big10 Swimming Championships, and All American honorable mention at NCAA Championships.


Based on her performance this season, Ally qualified for the Phillips 66 US National Swimming Championships. This meet decides who makes

the US National Team for 2017-18. It includes the best of the best swimmers in the country, from college to professional, to Olympians. Ally finished

4th in the country in the 400 meter Individual Medley, 4th in the country in the 1500 meter Freestyle, 10th in the country in the 800 meter Freestyle, and

11th in the country in the 400 meter Freestyle. Ally had the greatest improvement, overall, of any swimmer at the meet, male or female. 


Based on her performance at national championships, Ally was named to the US team that will participate in Taiwan at the World

University Games on August 19 and 20.  In addition, Ally recently was named to the US National Team for 2017-18, the highest honor a swimmer

can achieve in a non-Olympic year.


The future is very bright for Ally. She has a very strong shot at contending for an Olympic spot three years from now at the 2020 Olympic Trials.

It is incredibly exciting to see one of our alums on the national and world stage.

Congratulations and blessings to Ally as she plunges into her swimming future!


Little Flower Swimming Records:           9
Philadelphia Catholic League (PCL) Records: 1
PIAA District 12 Individual Event Champion: 8 (No higher number possible)
PCL Individual Event Champion: 8 (No higher number possible)
PCL All Catholic: 15 times
PIAA State Championships Qualifier: 8 Events (No higher number possible)
PIAA ALL State Team: 3 Times
Stroudsburg Winter Classic Swimmer of the Meet: 3 Times
US Olympic Trials Qualifier: 3 Events
Penn State University Records: 1
Big 10 Swimming Championships Medals: 1 (Silver - 400 meter Individual Medley)
NCAA All American Honors: 1