It’s been a pretty good few weeks for Hannah Whiteley.
The 17-year-old Springboro High School junior swam to a state record and a state title in the 100-meter backstroke event in February at the girls’ Division I state meet at C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, and added a state runner-up finish in the 100-meter butterfly.
Then in March, she won the 50-meter backstroke at the National Club Swimming Association Junior National Championships in Orlando to earn a trip to the 2016 Olympic Swimming Trials and a spot on the team representing the United States in Ireland at the end of April, according to her Mason Manta Rays club coach, Ken Heis.
Not a bad few weeks in the pool.
“I’ve never been out of the country before so it’s really exciting,” Whiteley said. “It was really convenient because I had already gotten my passport like a month earlier because I am actually going on a cruise to Alaska in August with my grandma and we have to go through Canada in order to get there. So I had to get my passport and I already had it done.”
Whiteley will join Mason sophomore Ashley Volpenhein in Ireland. Volpenhein, a state champion in 2014 and 2015 in the 50 freestyle and in 2015 in the 100 freestyle, placed second in Orlando in the 50.
“I had to figure out if I wanted to go or not and I wasn’t thinking about going at all because of the amount of school I would miss,” Whiteley said. “But then one of my teammates also got on the team – Ashley Volpenhein. So she was going, so then that made me want to go. That was what kind of convinced me.”
Whiteley earned her state-record time in the 100 backstroke during the preliminaries when she touched in 52.92, shattering former Ursuline Academy swimmer Emily Slabe’s time of 53.35 set during preliminaries at the 2014 state meet.
“That came as a surprise to me because I had no idea how fast I was going to go,” Whiteley said. “In prelims it was like really effortless and I went really fast. But finals, the final swim was different because it took more energy out of me to actually win it. I don’t really know why.”
She won the state title the next day in 52.95, besting Thomas Worthington senior Kaylee Witkiewicz’s second-place time of 54.34 and her teammate, Springboro junior Marianne Kahmann’s third-place time of 54.81.
“I was really nervous in the finals,” Whiteley said. “I went around the same time. I went like a couple one hundreds off what I went in prelims.
“Getting the state record in prelims definitely made me more nervous for finals because I didn’t know if I could do that again and I knew that I was more tired. It was literally a day later and by then my legs weren’t as rested and I was a little more tired going in to it. So I guess you could say that made me a little more nervous, but I still felt good.”
Whiteley said she had no idea what to expect at state in her other state event, the 100 butterfly.
She wanted a new challenge this year, so she competed in the butterfly instead of the 50 freestyle that she had done during her freshman and sophomore years.
She wound up in second place behind Kings sophomore Megan Sichterman who won the event in 54.35, just out-touching Whiteley’s time of 25.19.
With a year left to swim at the high school level, Whiteley should expect more good weeks like she has enjoyed recently.
“I have goals,” Whiteley said. “I have been working on the fundamentals of my strokes and even my under-waters, making them stronger. And hopefully to work on my fly more. I haven’t been fly much. It is kind of another event I was going to do and haven’t been training as much as I probably should have. So, next year that will probably be more of my focus, to train fly more as well as backstroke.”