Hannah Lee inspires team with positive attitude and selflessness



Hannah Lee committed to Washington University in St. Louis after a successful high school career, where she contributed to a strong and vibrant community among her teammates.

Out of the 173,088 female high school swimmers in the United States, only 7.5 percent go on to swim at the collegiate level. Senior Hannah Lee, a highly skilled and accomplished swimmer, has joined that 7.5 percent.

Lee began swimming at age seven for the Brookline Dolphins and soon after moved on to swimming for Charles River Aquatics (CRA). Although she began her swimming career as a novice, Lee’s passion and talent has flourished on her club and high school teams. Now, as a senior captain, Lee is a valued and respected leader.

Lee said her love for the sport comes from the competitive and supportive atmosphere that it offers. Specifically on the high school team, Lee said that the shared passion within the team drives both individuals and the collective group.

“Being able to train with people that also have the same goals, they want to push you and you want to push them. It’s just something that you want to pursue,” Lee said. “I think that’s why I really fell in love with the sport.”

Senior and co-captain Katherine Henry said Lee’s experience with the sport and commitment to the team allow her to bring an eye for technique into the pool.

“Even on the bad days, she comes in with the same attitude, ready to work, ready to help other people,” Henry said. “The other day, she ran a whole clinic at practice about breaststroke. That’s taking away from her practice time, but that didn’t matter to her because she’s trying to help the greater group.”

During her four years on the girls swim and dive high school team, Lee broke three individual records, a Sectional Meet record and a team relay record. She also made the Junior Nationals cut for the 100 meter breaststroke in club swimming.

Another senior and co-captain, Bonnie Zhao said Lee is always generous and willing to guide her teammates.

“She’s always very positive during practice.Whenever someone asks her to watch their technique, asks her to give them tips, she always jumps at the opportunity,” Zhao said.

According to Henry, Lee has been a successful swimmer over the course of her athletic career while also exemplifying unwavering character and humility.

“She’s very selfless in a way that’s rare to find in such a competitive athlete,” Henry said. “She’s been taking some of the hardest classes in high school since freshman year, she has been the state champion, and you would never know by talking to her.”

The relationship between these three captains began when they were around seven years old, swimming for the Dolphins. Now, as seniors captains, their bond remains strong and special.

“No matter who was coaching [or] where I was in terms of mental health, there were those two girls. I would come into practice and be like ‘okay, the heart of the team is still here,’” Henry said. “All I can say is that it’s been an honor to swim with Hannah.”

Her positive experiences in high school and club swimming resulted in Lee seeking out a university that offered a similar community. Lee said that the swimmers whom she’d met at Washington University, or WashU, created a warm and welcoming atmosphere, leading her to realize how fitting their program was for her.

“I went to WashU, and it’s really cliché, but it just clicked,” Lee said. “I met with the coach and four swimmers on the WashU swim team, and they were the nicest people I’ve ever met. I could tell that they really enjoyed the collaborative environment that WashU has. They really made an effort to get to know me, and make sure that I felt welcomed.”

Lee said she felt relief after committing and seeing a concrete glimpse into the next chapter of her life. She said for her, WashU emerged as a place where she saw herself building another one-of-a-kind and team-oriented community.

“It’s just so amazing, that feeling to have these people that are rooting for you all the time,” Lee said. “When I visited WashU, that is also what they have and I really want to be a part of that.”