CARY — Hannah Moore thinks about music and homework while she churns out the miles during daily workouts in the pool that last two hours and 15 minutes.
The Green Hope High School senior has used that kind of focus and patience to endure training and to rise to the top among swimmers in her age group in the nation.
But her mind was never more quickly wiped clear of all thoughts but one – winning – than in the Dec. 12 USA Swimming Junior Winter Nationals in Greensboro.
Moore came up for air a little more than midway through the 500-yard freestyle, and her view had wiped all competition from sight.
“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m winning!’ ” she recalled. “I didn’t see anyone in front of me.”
Moore had entered the final on Dec. 11 nervous and unhappy with her prelims performance that included only the sixth-best mark among the finalists. She had never finished better than seventh in previous Junior Nationals meets.
Then, out of the corner of her eye, she received an odd form of confirmation she was winning. She noticed Andrew DeSorbo, her club coach with Cary’s Triangle Aquatics Club Titans, wildly enjoying the moment on the pool deck.
“My coach was freaking out, and I just put my head down and went for it,” she said. “It was awesome to win. I’ve always wanted to win a Junior Nationals title.”
Moore won in 4 minutes, 43.04 seconds, a one-second improvement over her lifetime best in a race she won by 0.99 seconds.
Equally important to Moore’s future – she has committed to the University of Michigan and dreams of NCAA success and a shot at the Olympics – she had broken through a ceiling that she had been tapping on throughout her competitive career.
That barrier confronts all competitors. Some highly touted athletes shrink from knocking on that ceiling when confronted with competing against athletes equally as talented. The ones who advance seem to learn to blend work ethic with talent.
In a sport such as swimming, Moore has moved from club competition to junior nationals to nationals and U.S. Olympic trials. The 2012 Olympic trials included her opportunity to compete against Missy Frankin, the world-record holder who won four gold medals at the London Games.
“When I progressed to the national level, I found there were so many girls just as fast as me,” Moore said. “I like to put myself in the mindset I trained harder than them. When I show up at a meet, I think to myself, ‘No one here has done what I’ve done.’ I think that way when I’m training so when I get to the meet I know I’m ready.”
Moore’s talent and instincts have been handed down from a swimming family. Her parents, Michael and Amy, met as swimmers. Her father swam for LaSalle University. Her older brother William swam for Green Hope and was a state champ in soccer. Her sister Katie is now a Green Hope freshman. Her 11-year-old brother Michael is on track for a high school career.
Moore’s success hasn’t diminished her enthusiasm for high school swimming. Last year, she helped Green Hope to a 4A state runner-up finish. She set an NCHSAA state record in the 100 backstroke and also won the state 500 free.
“The high school season is different from the club season, but I really enjoy swimming for Green Hope,” Moore said. “I have a lot of friends on the team, and this year will be especially fun with my sister Katie on the team.”