Hannah Lawson: Making Waves at SLC

Lawson takes a breath while swimming the 200 medley at a meet photo by Tony Correa

Lawson takes a breath while swimming the 200 medley at a meet
photo by Tony Correa

She may have only been on the swim team for a less than a year, but Hannah Lawson (’18) is already making splashes in and out of the pool.

Swimming is a sport that seems to come naturally to the Portland, Oregon native. Lawson began swimming when she was quite young, her first experience was with a Summer Swim League at eight years old, and now she works as a swim instructor at SLC. Hannah is no ordinary swimmer; she’s also a record breaker. In her events, Freestyle and Breaststroke, Hannah has broken the 100 Breaststroke, 200 Breaststroke and is a member of the record-breaking relays in the 200 Medley, 400 Medley, 200 Freestyle and 400 Freestyle.

One might think it might be hard to balance and excel at a collegiate sport while balancing classwork, but Hannah sees things differently. “No, it’s not very difficult at all [to balance everything],” she said. “It’s only 90 minutes a day and I think performing athletic activity is important for having a healthy lifestyle.

Hannah has led quite an interesting life pre-Sarah Lawrence. During high school, she spent a year studying abroad in India.  “I wanted to go somewhere completely different than the United States […] I went in with an open mind. It was weird at first with cows on the street and such.”

Although the culture shock did not affect her as much when she went, she said she felt it more when she came back and it is something she is still processing. Still, Hannah looks back on the trip with fondness and speaks of how she and her host family still speak on a regular basis. “They’re like my second family,” she said.

Whether speaking to her about India or swimming, her enthusiasm shows and her peers and mentors alike see it too during competition.

“Hannah […] loves to compete,” said Head Swimming Coach Eric Mitchell. “She knows how to set goals and once she has her sights on it she works until she achieves it. It’s always nice to see qualities like that in young people.

“She has a silent determination about her and works very hard, is competitive, and it pays off,” agreed team member Brenna Rice (’15), “but she is also very collected during meets.”

On January 30 and 31, the Sarah Lawrence Women’s Swim Team competed in the 2015 Skyline Women's Swimming Championship. “Women got Second [place] and it was our first time competing [at a Championship level]. We brought it in,” Lawson said of the event.  This was not the only accomplishment Hannah has achieved while competing at the Skyline Conferences. She has been named Rookie-of-the-Week five times and earned all-conference honors at the Championship.

Mitchell sees this as indicative of how Hannah has grown over the course of the season. “As a competitor, she has gained more confidence over the season. As a person she has really opened up,” he said. “At the beginning of the year she a bit more reserved as she was trying to acclimate to college life. Now she is more outgoing and talkative, at least to me. I think she has grown to trust me and believe in what she is doing.”

The Upper New York State Collegiate Swimming Association Championship marked the final swim meet of the year, which stretched over the course of four days and lasted six hours per day. Any non-swimmer would be tired just thinking about competing for 24 hours, but Hannah was excited for the event. 

“I think it’s going to go great,” she said. We’re competing in Rochester and it’s going to be a long and hard but, I think it will go well.”

“She has been working hard and preparing for this meet,” Coach Mitchell said. “I am excited to see how fast she will swim in a few weeks.

On the first day of the competition, Lawson competed with three other teammates, Gabby Risica (‘17), Colette Harley (‘17), and Jacqueline Quirk (‘17), to set a SLC 200 yard medley relay record. The foursome stopped the clock in 1:59.17 which challenged their previous record by a second. On the third day of Championships, Lawson broke the SLC 100 meter breastroke record when she clocked in at 1:08.82. But, Lawson wasn’t finished yet. The following day, she broke another SLC record with the 200 yard breaststroke. It is evident that Lawson is a serious and determined athlete that is committed and passionate about her sport. 

What started out as a fun activity for Hannah has become a regular part of her everyday life. Although the season is coming to a close, and the new one not set to begin until November, Hannah does not plan on taking a break anytime soon.

“Oh definitely,” she said, when asked if she plans to continue swimming. “I mean I don’t plan on going to the Olympics or anything, but I plan to swim for the rest of my life.”

By Mary Kekatos ’15

SLC Phoenix

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