Out of the Block and into the Books

Junior Hannah Hailu leads MN girls swim team

Nate Hollenbeck, Staff Writer

Perseverance, strength, speed, precision.  Junior Hannah Hailu has been honing these skills since she first took a swim lesson at two years old. Hailu dove into the pool and never looked back. 

Hailu has had a long record of success since medaling in multiple events at the Metro championships as a freshman in 2017.  

Hailu comes from a swimming family and attributes the beginning of her high school athletic career to her family. 

“I got into swimming because my older sisters did, and I just followed them, then I discovered I really liked it,” Hailu said. 

Although she may have been born a swimmer, Hailu has done her fair share of work to get to the level she’s at now. 

“On any given day I have two practices, mornings in the pool for two hours, and then in the afternoon we run and do core workouts,” Hailu said. 

However, she doesn’t stop there. 

“After that on most days, I go to another place to lift with my club team,” Hailu said. 

All of that totals to 21 hours of practice a week. To compete with this much success, that level of work is necessary. 

Last November, Hailu accomplished something that many swimmers strive for but never achieve. She got a time cut for Junior Nationals. She broke the time barrier with 2:00.08 to qualify herself to compete with the best of the best in the 200 backstroke at a hyper-selective junior national meet.   

“I got the cut on my birthday which was really nice…I was with my club team and everyone was so happy for me,” Hailu said.

Hannah’s achievements extend far beyond the pool; this year she was the girls team captain. 

Her sophomore teammate Maddie McLeay agrees that she is just as effective as a leader as she is a swimmer. 

“Hannah has made a huge impact on the team as a captain, many of the younger girls look up to her as their role model. She is such a great leader,” McLeaysaid. 

At the Feb. 28 and 29 state swim meet Hailu took home another series of accolades. 

Hailu took home three medals at this years’ meet with third in both the 100 butterfly and the 100 backstroke, and second in the 200 medley relay. 

Her school record holding 400 free relay took home 4th place as well, consisting of Hailu, sophomore Stephanie Branson, junior Mary Ulrich, and sophomore Maddie McLeay.

As to what led Hailu to this success, head swimming coach Andrew Cunnigham says it comes down to two things. 

“Her attitude has always been stellar and her self-discipline is very rare … every time she leaves the wall she does so with the specific intent of getting better,” Cunningham said.

Even though swimming is often considered to be an individual sport, it is more than that to Hailu. 

“It’s awesome to have a swimmer of that caliber on the team, She enjoys her individual success but she enjoys the team’s success even more,” Cunningham said. 

Hailu began swimming to be like her older sisters; now she is the big sister for many of MN’s younger swimmers, and after 11 years of swimming achievements, that one stands out.