Storm finding success in the pool

Hannah Storm qualified for two events at the PIAA state championship. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

It’s hard to imagine they’d have a better teacher.

Children swimming at GoldFish Swim Academy in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, are getting lessons from someone who certainly knows what she’s talking about.

After all, Hannah Storm, a junior at Archbishop Ryan High School, is very good with kids, and she’s also a three-time state qualifying swimmer across the bridge from the school.

“I needed a job, so I was looking for one and I saw that, so I was really interested,” said Storm, who lives in Lexington Park. “It’s a really fun job. The kids are 3 months old to 9 years old, and after that, they can join the swim team there.

“It’s not hard, teaching them, but sometimes it’s hard because they lose focus. I understand, they’re in the water and they want to play. So I try to make it as fun as possible. We have a lot of fun.”

Storm is now looking to have her own fun when she competes in two races at the PIAA state swim championships on March 19 and 20 at Cumberland Valley High School.

By virtue of her first-place finish in the 100-yard individual medley race at the District 12 tournament over the weekend across the street from Ryan, she qualified for the states.

She also joined forces with Paige Colombo, Maya Londo and Gianna Short to win the 200 free relay, also qualifying for states. Julie Deluisi will be an alternate on the relay team, so she’s headed to Cumberland Valley, too.

This marks the third straight year Storm is bound for states and while she hasn’t brought home a medal yet, she hopes this year that changes.

“It feels good to walk in there, I go in confident even though the best swimmers are there,” said Storm, who helped the Ragdolls take second in the team scoring behind Archbishop Wood. “I’m excited to go back. This year I really want to place, one through five, and see what we can do. It’s definitely been a weird year, but I want to end it with a medal.”

Storm certainly put in many miles this year preparing for states.

And that’s not just in the water.

Storm typically works out with her Ryan teammates and also swims with the Penn Charter Club team during the offseason, but this year that wasn’t possible.

Pools all over were closed because of the shutdowns necessitated by the coronavirus, so Storm had to look all over for places to work out.

Last year, she was able to get back in the pool with Penn Charter, but since the pool is outside, she hasn’t had much of a chance to get in the water. Couple that with Ryan having to shut down its pool because of coronavirus outbreaks, it left Storm to go on a scavenger hunt to find a practice site.

Don’t worry, she did.

“I joined the (YMCA), so I would have to go there to swim,” Storm said. “One was in Willow Grove and the other was in New Jersey (Mount Laurel). It was hard because you’d have to drive far just to get to practice, and then you’d have to practice. But once I got there, I felt good and I was ready to swim.

“It was definitely not like other years. You really had to find a place to go. But when I’d go places, they were usually empty because everyone was afraid to go. So it was good that I was able to get in and practice.

“A lot of us didn’t get to practice as much as we normally do. It’s been a bad year for swimming. I improved this year, and I think I did pretty good, but I would have done better if I had a place to work out all the time. I think it was hard for everyone.”

Coronavirus certainty did no favor for the Ragdolls, who lost a lot of swimmers to graduation this year.

According to Storm, it was hard to get swimmers because people weren’t sure how safe it was, and even if they did, it was hard to work together.

“We only had like seven practices because we couldn’t practice because we didn’t have anywhere to go,” Storm said. “It was a really different year, but I think we did pretty good.

“Races were different, too. Usually after my races, I would look to the stands and see people, but this year I would look and nobody would be there. We livestreamed some of the races on YouTube, but it wasn’t as fun as having people there. Hopefully next year we’ll have people there, but I’m not sure what will happen.”

She does know she and her teammates will be working hard for the next few weeks to bring home medals.

And she’ll have a lot of work to do.

The individual medley consists of four strokes: butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle. Storm, an A and B student, knows to be successful, she’ll have to have a great race, which means having great times in all four.

“I started doing the IM because when I was little I couldn’t decide which one I liked doing, so they put me there,” Storm said. “I’ve been working on my backstroke the most because that’s the one I need the most work in. But I like all of them still.

“I really want to place in both races. That’s my goal. I want to place this year, maybe first, and I want to make states next year. That’s my goals.”