STM's Got Talent Hannah Dvorski: The Aquatic Knight
By: Tuong Kuwabong
We Knights are very used to speeding around the field, intercepting footballs, blocking basketballs and reaching new heights- literally- as we send a volleyball back over the net with a smash. Beneath the surface, we also hold our own as we defeat rivals year after year with the torpedoes we call our swim team.
Meet one such member, grade 11 student Hannah Dvorski. You may see her rushing to class, keeping up her good grades in Law, Psychology, and English, or even checking out your groceries at a nearby No Frills. Who would know that the classmate building a case in Law class or walking by the produce section is the same girl leading our school to swimming victories, and that she is an elite member of the GHAC national swim team? Even more exclusively, she is one of the Senior Elite of GHAC’s best swimmers.
MORE News managed to catch up to Dvorski last week to find out a bit more about the world of elite swimmers. She was very lively and animated, answering questions with much gusto and detail. Perhaps this energy is what makes her such a good competitive swimmer in the first place.
Dvorski’s entrance into competitive swimming really started with a defeat. She was 11 years old when, while trying to complete level 4 of life guard license testing, her concerns about swimming as fast as she possibly could actually caused her to fail the test. However, seeing this attention and focus on speed, her mom decided she would put the young Dvorski in competitive swimming, and Hannah has been there ever since.
Hannah has been swimming for as long as she can remember, but the day she and everyone around her realized that she was no ordinary swimmer came during a competition in Ottawa in February, 2012. The then 15 year old Dvorski recalls being “so calm” during her 100 m backstroke qualifiers. Easy win after win brought her to the Nationals, then through the Nationals and on to the Olympic Trials, where she had a chance of making Canada’s Olympic team. These successes also raised the attention of her family and friends to her budding athletic ability in the water. Although she didn’t make it through the Olympic trials, her performance at such a young age was not forgotten by those close to her, or by sports academies. Soon enough, athletic school letters began filling in her mailbox, and that was the moment when Dvorski herself was awed by her rare and talented achievements in the pool.
Today, Hannah develops her skill in hopes of one day making it to the Olympics. As part of the Senior Elite team, she has plenty of time to do so during her 2-3 hour practices every day (twice on Mondays and Tuesdays). At McMaster's Olympic-sized pool, she and her team mates meet at 5:00 a.m. to warm-up with laps around the pool, followed by practice drills and their expert strokes. Each practice is equivalent to 6000m or 6 kilometres of swimming, more than most people walk in a day!
To further hone her abilities, Dvorski also takes part in out of country practices with her team. While we were relaxing during March Break this year, she was swimming 14 kilometres (640 laps around a standard Olympic-sized pool) during practices in sunny Florida.
There is no doubt all the practice has paid off. This year, Dvorski led our school team to victory during the GHAC competition, even breaking a record at the event for the backstroke. She didn’t necessarily go in trying to break the record, but when she saw the time on the board and the other swimmers struggling to even catch up, she remembers she “[knew she] could [break the record].” Hannah also recalls Ms. Dyment, a STM Swim Team coach, being the one who confirmed she had, in fact, done brilliantly and set a new record.
According to Dvorksi herself, “swimming is a very mental sport.” So how does someone juggle 22 and a half hours of swimming, 18 hours of work, and full time schooling every week? Hannah says it’s all about keeping focused, and receiving helpful support from her family, friends, school, and teammates. Her family and friends always cheer her on and are very proud of her. Hannah also finds the school community to be “very accommodating” when she has to miss school for any sport related activities. She has her role models Natalie Coughlin (12-time Olympian) and Missy Franklin (4-time Olympic gold medalist and only age 17) to look up to as well.
There are some things Hannah has had to give up, though. Although she would also like to also join the school track team, there just isn’t enough time to spare. But her main advice to students participating in a sport is to enjoy the experience and rely on your teammates. “Have fun! It’s so much fun! My best friends are from swimming. There’s no one who compares to them.”
In the little spare time that she does have, Dvorski, like any teenager, enjoys going on the computer to check up on Twitter and Tumblr and watching the Walking Dead. She can relate to her favourite TV show, as she states that with her very busy schedule she only gets about 5 hours of sleep a night.
Dvorski is also thinking about her plans after graduation from STM. In an ideal world, she says, she would want to enroll in a university in the United States and swim through her undergraduate years, eventually making it to the Olympic level and participating for Canada. But she is keeping her options open and if she can’t swim professionally, she’s thinking about forensics or dentistry.
Above all, Hannah wants to be doing what she loves in the future, and will continue to swim regardless of where she goes. She can only see herself “still swimming, being happy.”