Wednesday November 14, 2012 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Hannah Graesser stands in front of the pool where she broke so many records for Frontier over the past four years. Starting next year, she’ll swim for Canisius College. (Photo by Michael J. Petro)
Senior decides to swim next at Canisius
Hannah Graesser exploded onto the high school swim scene by winning a sectional title as just a freshman. Ever since winning the 50-yard sprint freestyle at the 2009 Section VI Championships, Graesser had been fighting to get back to the top of the medal stand.
It may have taken three seasons, but Graesser got back on top, winning the 50 free at her final sectional meet. In between, Graesser has broken and re-broken a number of schools records but it was that first-place finish that was so special because of how elusive it became.
“I was excited for it,” Graesser said. “I wanted to place high in my last sectionals, go out strong and give it all I’ve got…As a freshman, I won. I wanted to be able to say I won as a senior, too.”
Frontier head coach Jeff Moessinger said Graesser had her eyes on a sprint freestyle title, but knew she’d have to beat Clarence junior Dina Rommel. While Rommel would edge Graesser in the 100 free, Graesser got the best of her rival swimming a 24.04 in the 50.
“Hannah wanted to go out on top,” Moessinger said. “That was vindication for her.”
Graesser now heads back to the State Championships, where she has competed each season since following that freshman year sectional victory. She hopes to earn a top eight place finish in her final scholastic meet before swimming for Canisius College, to which she recently verbally committed.
“The big thing for her is that all of the hardwork has paid off,” Moessinger said. “She’s had some tough swims during the year. I knew she had it in her. She’s gotten better and better and peaked at sectionals.”
Graesser has been working very hard during the swimming season; at times, maybe a little too hard. Since September, Graesser was swimming doubles, participating for the high school team, before working out and competing with her club squad, the Tonawanda Titans.
“I’ve spent a lot of time and effort working hard at every practice and in meets focusing on states,” Graesser said.
Toward the end of the season, Moessinger said Graesser had begun cutting down how much she worked to allow for some rest. She’s now tapering for this weekend’s state championships. Regardless of how much she’s actually in the pool, her attention to detail never wavers.
“If it’s not perfect, she works to get it right,” Moessinger said. “She’s so intense. She knows where every hundredth of a second is coming from.”
After a somewhat disappointing third place in the 200 individual medley and fourth in the 100 free at the ECIC Championships, Graesser responded with exceptional swims in sectional competition. Graesser said Rommel had an injured knee, so she used it to her advantage in the shorter 50-yard race.
“I thought that would play to my advantage,” Graesser said. “I got ahead at the start and then stayed ahead at the turn.”
That sort of competitive spirit has landed Graesser enough records that her name should remain on Frontier’s pool board for years. She set new Frontier school marks in the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 200 IM and 100 butterfly, along with being a member of record-setting teams in all three relays – the 200 free, 200 medley and 400 free.
“When I first came to the team, I never thought I’d get where I did,” Graesser said. “Leaving with all of these records, I know they should stay for a while. Coming back to see will be a cool thing.”
A quiet leader, Graesser’s work ethic is what teammates follow.
“Most everything she does, the other girls want to follow and it’s not because she says, ‘look at me,’” Moessinger said. “They look at how she prepares. She brings the type of attitude that everyone can look at.”
What’s also impressive is where she’ll land after graduation. After garnering much attention from a number of schools, Graesser narrowed her decision down to a few before deciding on Canisius and verbally committing last week.
“I felt like Canisius is the best fit,” Greasser said. “It’s close to home and I really love the team and the coach.”