Hahn ends high school swimming career with commitment to The Savannah College of Art and Design
From Rookie of the Year in 2018 to Class M MVP this year, senior Nikki Hahn is making a name for herself in the swimming community: 10 times on the EL record board to be exact.
“It gets harder and harder the longer you stick with a sport. The workouts get more difficult and the practice times get longer,” Hahn said. “But swimming brings people closer together, and there is a lot of unity created in this sport.”
Hahn has always lived in the water, but she started competitive swimming at age 9. She progressed through swimming lessons, stroke school, club swim, the ELMS swim team, and now the ELHS swim team.
Originally, Hahn started swimming because of her brother, Bobby. It was recommended to him and she just tagged along, not knowing that it would be the sport she stuck with through the years, leaving a lasting impact on her teammates and coaches.
Other awards Hahn has won include Day Swimmer of the Year, All-State, and ECC Swimmer of the Meet, all of these multiple times.
“Nikki is very driven. She’s a hard worker and passionate about swimming,” said junior and varsity teammate, Sandra Kirvelevicius.
Hahn inspires her teammates with her relentless practice discipline. Her drive and love of the sport allows her to have the inspiration to keep practicing and get even better than the day before.
“During quarantine, Nikki tried to go to other pools and swimming programs when our pool was closed, while the rest of us just hoped the pool would open again,” senior and fellow swimmer Anna Lu said.
She’s not just focused on herself. Hahn strives to help the entire team improve. Her teammates note that she is a great leader, looks out for everyone, and keeps the team’s spirits high.
“From Nikki breaking records and being the fastest swimmer, I have always wanted to be like that and get my name on the board. My sister got up there, but Nikki has broken her records too,” Kirvelevicius said. Hahn’s mindset plays a huge role in her success. When Hahn races, she blocks everything out and doesn’t let anything get to her. Even if she ever has a bad swim, she brushes it off and keeps going.
“Being tall would be the first thing that stands out. But really, beyond her physical advantages, Nikki has exceptional technique that she works hard to refine,” swim coach Rob Bouchey said.
Hahn said that her coaches and parents are her biggest supporters. During quarantine, when she struggled with motivation, her parents encouraged her to keep training; even if it was in her garage or neighbor’s pool.
“Swimming has a really nice balance of being both a team sport and an individual sport. It has the fun of competition, but it doesn’t have a lot of that team member to team member rivalry that other sports have,” Hahn said.
Hahn isn’t just an accomplished athlete; she’s also an artist. She recently committed to The Savannah College of Art and Design where she will continue to swim while pursuing her other passions.
Hahn said that what initially drew her to SCAD was the recommendations she got from others. It’s really rare to find an art school, especially a big one with lots of connections like SCAD, that also has high level sports and a swim team. Hahn visited in October to meet the team and tour the school, and it really felt like somewhere she could fit in and be happy.
“In the end, I decided on SCAD because I thought, if I don’t chase my dream of trying to work in the animation industry now, I’ll always wonder if I could have done it.,” Hahn said.
Hahn understands the struggles of balancing schoolwork with a busy sports schedule, but she’s ready to carry the challenge onto the next chapter of her life.
“It really is hard to believe that I have accomplished so much- I talk about this all the time, but when I was a freshman I had exactly one goal for my career, and that was to get just one record, the 100 breaststroke. And maybe win states someday, a crazy dream. Being here now having done both of these multiple times and more, I look back and it’s such a shock.”