Hannah Sweet didn’t lose a single race in Valley Oak League meets, helped Ripon High’s girls swim team capture a third straight league title and earned a top-15 finish in the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships.
She deserves a break from the pool, right?
Sweet thinks otherwise.
“I really like to try my best and put all that I can into it,” Sweet said. “I’m one of the oldest swimmers in the school and our club team, so I just try to be a role model for the younger swimmers.”
She’s still competing over the summer for Ripon Aquatics for swimming and water polo and is the classic “first to arrive and last to leave” athlete who coach Erik Zador appreciates. He calls the two-time Manteca Bulletin All-Area Girls Swimmer of the Year “one of the hardest working girls I’ve come across.”
“We had a couple good seniors graduate so she had to step up,” Zador said. “She’s just very inspirational to the rest of the kids. Everyone looks up to her and enjoys watching her swim. Just an overall great athlete.”
Her hard work definitely paid off.
Sweet was coming off a sophomore season in which she placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke and fourth in the 200 freestyle at the frosh-soph level in the SJS Finals.
This year she went undefeated in league, including in the VOL Championships when she was part of first-place finishes 200 individual medley, 100 breast, 200 medley relay and 200 free relay. But her favorite moment was the team’s title-clinching victory at Oakdale in the final dual meet of the season.
Needing a win to capture the outright crown — Ripon’s previous two titles were shared — the Lady Indians prevailed 97-73 thanks to several wins in close races. Emma Lewis, Andria Martin, Chloe Winter and Sweet out-touched an Oakdale foursome in the 200-yard medley relay, the first event of the meet. Lewis later won the highly-competitive 50-free, and Sweet held off Oakdale standout Summer Thompson in the 200 IM.
“It was a really exciting meet and very difficult,” Sweet said. “Our coach (Kim Corgiat) gave us a little pep talk at the beginning and said we need to give it our all because there were going to be some close races, and she was right. I had to really push on that last lap (in the 200 IM) and was happy to get the win for the team.”
Her versatility keyed Ripon’s championship run, but it is in the distance events where she shines most. Sweet turned in the 14th best 500 free time in the SJS Trials and went on to place sixth in the consolation finals while setting a new school record with a time of 5 minutes, 13.30 seconds. Sweet also has a hand in all three program records in the relay events.
She’s proud of her accomplishments, but true to form she isn’t fully satisfied. Sweet would like to qualify for the section meet in more events and go out as a four-time league champion.
“I was able to (achieve) my goal in the 500 free, which was exciting for me, but I did not do as well in the 200 free. I really want to improve on my times in both distance events and try to improve on my breaststroke.
“I’m excited going into my senior year,” she added. “There’s going to be some pressure for us to keep it going, but we have really good freshman and sophomore classes coming up. It should be another really good season.”
And while Zador can’t say enough about Sweet’s unparalleled work ethic, she attributes much of her success to her coach.
“I could not have achieved any of my goals without Coach Zador pushing and motivating me,” she said. “He is a dedicated coach and always has the best interest of his swimmers in mind. During times of trial he continued to encourage me and remind me of my goals.”