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Graesser breaks records at Canisius

Any athlete fresh off competing in high school can tell you about how difficult the transition to college can be. For some, the new level of competition can be easier to cope with than others.

Hannah Graesser is one of those athletes.

Graduating from Frontier in 2013, Graesser went on to Canisius College to take her swimming capabilities to the Division I level. And it was only a matter of time before she made her mark in college just as she did in high school.

As seven records stood with Graesser’s name on them by the time she left Frontier, she added six more just a few months later. The freshman swimmer broke record after record during her first year in the pool at Canisius.

“Once I saw what the records were, I thought that I could get them so I worked hard for them,” said Graesser.

Graesser took the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle marks at Canisius as a freshman, which she cherishes the most because she “worked really hard to get those.”

She was also a part of the 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay record-breaking teams.

“I knew coming in she had it in her,” said Scott Vanderzell, head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams at Canisius College. “She came in from day one and worked hard. She deserves everything she got, and she knew she wanted those records and she got them. She did it with her teammates and those relays were important to her as well.”

Graesser’s name has been all over Frontier’s record books for years. She graduated as a part of seven school records that date back to 2009: the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 200 individual medley, 200 medley relay, 200 freestyle relay and the 400 freestyle relay.

She also competed at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Girls Swimming Championships four times, including a runner-up in the 100 freestyle during her freshman season. Graesser was also a member of the USA Swimming Scholastic All-American Team in 2011.

With plenty of Division I programs showing interest in the Lady Falcon, it was not until her senior year of swimming at Frontier that she made up her mind on where she wanted to go to school.

“I had no idea where I was going to go until senior year,” said Graesser, who is a biology major at Canisius. “I went to a bunch of places and [went on] a bunch of recruiting trips, then once I visited Canisius, maybe in October, I realized that’s where I wanted to go.”

Helping with her transition from high school to college was her older brother, Garrett, who was already a swimmer at Canisius before she arrived on campus.

“It was definitely easier with him there because he helped me a lot and I already knew a lot of people that were at Canisius since he was there,” Graesser said about her senior-to-be brother.

Graesser, who also swims club for the Tonawanda Titans, remembers her first practices at Canisius and how many mixed emotions she had early in the 2013-14 season.

“When I first started I was really excited, but I knew that practices were going to be a lot harder than they used to be in high school so I was nervous about that,” she said.

It was not long before she channeled those nerves into plenty of records and wins as a rookie.

Graesser won a total of 11 events this past season and was named MAAC Swimmer of the Week after winning the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle at the University of Rochester Invite.

“She was a tremendous swimmer and earned everything she got,” Vanderzell said.

At the MAAC Championships, Graesser would go on to place third in the 50 freestyle, fifth in the 100 freestyle and 11th in the 200 individual medley.

“I really enjoyed my first year swimming in college. I wouldn’t change anything about it,” said Graesser.

Vanderzell talked about what impresses him the most about Graesser and what makes her a good swimmer.

“She has a quick reaction, she’s very strong and she’s a hard worker,” Vanderzell noted. “She works hard not only in the pool but in the weight room. She takes it as a challenge to get better every day. She’s just one of those athletes that’s talented, but she gets more out of herself because she works hard.”

So what’s next for the Golden Griffin that broke numerous records during her first year in the pool as a Division I swimmer? Only time will tell, but Graesser is excited and is just as anxious as she has ever been to get back into the pool at Canisius College.

“I’m just looking forward to swimming with the team again,” Graesser said. “I want to get back in the pool again and have another good year.”

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