Last spring, Hannah Moore stood atop the podium at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A swimming championships as her Green Hope High teammates cheered for her state high school record in the 500-yard freestyle.
Last week, Moore twice mounted another podium, this time as the gold medalist in the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China, as the Star Spangled Banner played in the background.
“It was just awesome to see the flag raised and to sing along with my teammates!” Moore responded by email from China. “Winning two golds for Team USA was incredible because I was so proud to represent my country on the podium.
“I was really striving for the gold in the 200 backstroke, but the 400 freestyle was a very surprising win!”
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Maybe a surprise to Moore, but not to Andrew DeSorba, her coach at various club teams since she was 12 years old.
“That’s just Hannah,” he said. “I think she’s surprised anytime she wins.”
The Youth Olympic Games are held once every four years and an international field of athletes between the ages of 15 to 18 assembled for Olympic-style competition.
The meet was the first major international competition for Moore, who is leaving China and reporting directly to the University of Michigan as a freshman.
“She made a statement internationally,” DeSorba said. “She raced the best 18-year-olds in the world and won.”
DeSorba said Moore is No. 4 in the United States in all ages in the 200 back and is quickly moving up in the 400. Last spring, she obliterated the 500-yard freestyle record by almost six seconds.
Moore shared the gold medal in China in the 200-meter back with Ambra Esposito of Italy with 2:10.42 finishes.
“It feels a bit strange to share the medal, but it feels really good and it’s a gold medal after all,” Esposito told reporters at the championships.
Moore initially feared she had missed the gold medal in her top event.
“I think I might have taken that a little too hard in the beginning because I could really feel my legs burning on the last 50,” she said. “When I touched I was thinking, ‘Oh no man, I think I’ve just lost.’ ”
She was relieved to see she was still golden.
“This is the coolest thing I have ever done,” Moore said. “All my teammates were taking pictures.”
Moore came back two days later to win the 400 free by 0.18 seconds with a 4:11.23.
“The experience has been unlike anything I’ve ever done before,” Moore said in her email. “Being totally surrounded by athletes from countries all around the world and competing with them is a bit intimidating but also an honor.”
Moore said one of the best parts of the competition is living in the Olympic Village.
“The Village is a great place to meet and interact with others, which we do through a device called ‘Yoggers,’ ” she said.
Each athlete has a little plastic hand, a Yogger, which has a code imbedded. When two Yoggers touch, information about the athletes is exchanged, stored and can be downloaded.
“It has their phone number if you want to stay in touch,” Moore said. “Yogging has definitely been very fun! It’s a terrific way to start a conversation!”
She said she wished she had time to return home and share the moment with her family and DeSorbo.
“But there just isn’t time. I will have to settle for sending my medals home to them instead!” she said.
Michigan swimming and diving coach Mike Bottom is glad she is headed to the Wolverines.
“We are excited to have Hannah Moore join us in Ann Arbor and bring her into our team,” Bottom said. “She comes from a Michigan family (her mother is a Michigan graduate) and understands fully what it means to be a part of a team. With her work ethic and drive to be a champion, she will fit in well with our team and enhance our program.”