AMANDA KRAVITZ/SAGAMORE STAFF
As freshman Hannah Lee swims through the icy pool, she is propelled by her drive, her passion for the sport and the support of her teammates. She stands out as a record-breaking swimmer, bursting with joy and team spirit.
Over the course of the season, Lee broke not one, not two, but three records. Her uplifting, supportive attitude raised team spirit while pushing and inspiring her teammates to work hard and improve.
For friend and teammate freshman Bonnie Zhao, swimming with Lee is a great experience.
“I’ve loved having Hannah on my team. She’s a great teammate,” Zhao said. “She’s also a really hard worker, and for me that’s really inspiring because I’ve seen how successful she is. It inspires me to work hard, so I can get to where she is.”
Lee is committed to the sport and enjoys the community of the team at the high school.
“I want to definitely swim in college and then keep swimming,” Lee said. “I just love swimming with people I like. I love the high school team. The captains are amazing. Everybody is just so fun, so supportive, and I’m just so happy to be a part of it.”
For Lee, the ability to motivate herself contributed to her record-breaking season.
“I was racing a really fast girl and that helped me motivate myself to beat her. I just really wanted to beat it, and I knew I was capable, so I went for it,” Lee said. “And then the two medley relay, it was really fun because my relay is just so positive, so we got to team up together and just motivate each other and just beat the record together.”
The atmosphere of the high school team provides a strong community for Lee, especially because of the tight-knit community that formed over the season.
“It’s just amazing, everybody’s so nice. There’s so much spirit and you aren’t afraid to ask anybody on the team for any help or anything,” Lee said. “Sometimes on club you don’t really get to know everybody because there’s a lot of people, but on high school you get to know everyone and it’s really fun.”
According to Zhao, Lee’s attitude extends outside of swimming.
“She’s the same person. She has a really fun personality and that definitely translates into her as a swimmer. She’s really nice at practice,” Zhao said.
Despite her time-consuming season on the club team, coach Jim Stallings said Lee was always at practice, training as hard as she could. Lee participates at Charles River Aquatics (CRA) when she is not swimming for the high school.
“She’s always here practicing hard. Coming in from a long course season with CRA put her in a good spot so she was in shape, ready to go.” Stallings said. “High school swimming is so different than club swimming. We only have 90 days, give or take, to get you race-ready and get you to accomplish what we need you to accomplish. She thrived under that, so she was definitely one of the youthful leaders we’ve had on the team.”
According to Stallings, her hard work and the uplifting team spirit added to the drive that Lee and her teammates brought to training.
“She trains with a bunch of her friends here that she came in with from club and a bunch of freshmen, and they train really hard. They push each other. They have fun with it. Outside of there whatever they’re doing at CRA seems to be working for her. She’s hard. She’s engaged. And she just trains,” Stallings said.
Next, Lee hopes to be a part of Futures, a league for swimmers to compete above their age group. Stallings has confidence she’ll make it both there and beyond.
“I think Futures is 100 percent going to happen for her this year. I know that’s a big checkmark she wants, but honestly, I think she’ll make hopefully a national cut here or there. She is definitely the top breaststroker right now in the state,” Stallings said.
Stallings continues to support Lee beyond their season together, hoping that she can continue to improve.
“From my standpoint as a coach, now that my season’s over with her, I become almost like a cheerleader or a parent where I get to watch her from the sidelines and really cheer for her because ultimately, that’s what we want for our swimmers,” Stallings said. “Whether you’re part of a club or not, it’s to go forward. Get the best times. Achieve your goals.”