Into the record books

By: 
KateLynn Slaamot

KateLynn Slaamot

NLJ Correspondent

 

High school swimmer Hannah Gross has been making waves all across the state — breaking records and achieving great accomplishments. 

Recently, Gross competed in the 3A Absaraka conference meet in Rawlins and broke the conference record for the 100-yard backstroke, which was set by Rachel Henkle, also from Newcastle. Gross beat the record with a time of 1:00.96. She also broke the 50-free record for the pool in Rawlins with a 25.18. The talented swimmer was also voted 3A Athlete of the Year this year. 

Gross started swimming at a young age, she said, and has grown in her abilities through hard work and dedication. Gross began swimming lessons when she was just 3 years old, and at age 7, she tried out for the swim team in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where she used to live.

“I’ve been swimming ever since,” Gross said. Gross swam with the team in Sioux Falls until she was eight, and then she moved to Newcastle. She has been swimming with the club team here, Newcastle Stingrays, since she was 9. 

Her time with the club team prepared her for the high school swim team. Doug Scribner, the high school swim team coach, took notice of Gross throughout the years. 

“She was a strong swimmer when she was younger,” Scribner said. 

As Gross got older, Scribner asked her club coaches to work on transitioning her into high school swim. The high school junior has now been swimming with Scribner’s team for three years. Scribner said that Gross has grown and improved leaps and bounds in those three years. 

“I think the biggest growth has occurred in the last two years,” Scribner said. 

Gross has qualified for and competed in the Western Zones Championships in Fresno, California, for the past two years. Scribner also said that Gross has a great perspective on competing and puts her best effort forward.

“She’s matured and has a really good perspective about competing,” Scribner said.

Gross has her own stories of growth in swimming. When she was younger, she wasn’t very good at the backstroke, she said. One day, when she was at a swim meet, she was trying to make it to finals in the 100 free but didn’t make the cut. Although disappointed, she said, she decided to try to make it to finals in the 50 backstroke instead. 

“I knew I’d have to cut a lot of time,” Gross said. 

She was currently in 15th place in the stroke and had to make it to the top eight to head onto finals. The young swimmer decided to give it her all. Gross said that a very fast swimmer was in the lane right next to hers, so she just decided to try to keep up with her. In the race, Gross shaved off five seconds and placed 4th – making it into finals. The backstroke is now Gross’ favorite stroke. 

Gross said that she has also grown in her dedication to the sport. While things can be fun as a little kid, she said, they become more intense as one gets older. 

“The more I’ve done it, the more intense practices have been,” Gross said. “I feel like I’m more dedicated to it.”

Gross has also had to overcome challenges throughout her years of swimming. On top of being in high school swim, Gross is also still involved in club swim. She has had seasons in club with no coach and has had to practice by herself and push herself, which she said was tough. However, Gross’ dedication to the sport still hasn’t wavered. 

Gross said that she has found that her favorite thing about the sport is the camaraderie she finds around the state. She said that some sports can get intense and cutthroat, but most of the swimmers she has met and competes with around the state are friendly and supportive. 

“I’ve definitely made many friends in Wyoming just through swimming,” Gross said. She also added that she appreciates the difficult practices and hard work that swimming requires.

“I like the satisfactory feeling of hard work,” Gross said.

Besides personal growth and dedication to the sport, both Scribner and Gross’ mom, Teresa, shared what has stood out to them about Gross. 

“I think the thing that has stood out to me the most is the excitement she has when she has the opportunity to race someone faster,” Scribner said, noting that Gross enjoys a challenge and it pushes her to rise to the occasion and do her best. 

Teresa said that her daughter is very self-motivated and doesn’t need to be told to do things — she just does them. 

“She’s very responsible and very driven,” Teresa said.

Gross has also made an immense impact on others. Scribner and Teresa said
that she is friendly and a “positive role model” to others
on the club team and high school team. 

“She really is an inspiration for what you can accomplish,” Scribner said. 

However, Gross credits all of this to God, and she said that she wouldn’t be where she is without him. 

“I definitely credit it to God and just giving me the opportunity to swim. I know that anything I accomplish is by his grace,” Gross said, adding that she is grateful for the people God has put in her life to help her, the work ethic he’s blessed her with and the family support he’s provided. Gross said that she also has the opportunity to do devotions before her swim meets with two of her teammates. 

In addition to swimming, Gross also enjoys several other hobbies. She attends TeenPact events to learn leadership skills, and she also bakes and participates in shooting sports. She’s won several awards in shooting sports, including grand champion in air rifle for the past three years, among other achievements. Gross has even won a baking contest
with the Weston County Republican Party.

As far as the future goes, and what it holds, Teresa said that she just wants Gross to do what she would like to do, whether she decides to swim after high school or not. The most important thing for Teresa, she said, is that Gross continues in her faith, gives glory to God and learns from “wins and losses.” 

“Swimming is a talent God has given her, and I hope
she uses it for his purpose,” Teresa said. 

As for Gross’ hopes and goals, she said that she really wants to try to break the 3A state record too. She has considered swimming in college, but she said she doesn’t know for sure what the future will hold at this point and just wants to honor God in all she does.

“I’m excited to see how he uses me,” Gross said.

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