Swim is a deeply ingrained part of Mary Hanson’s life — in her family and her faith.
After high school, Hanson came to California Baptist University to study electrical engineering and to swim. She was not the only one in her family. Both of her sisters were on CBU’s swim and dive team before her.
“I came to visit [CBU] when my sister was a freshman, and we all just saw the school and fell in love with it. We really liked the coaches, the facilities and everything,” Hanson said.
However, swim was a part of the Hanson family long before college. It all started with a horrible dream.
“We started because my mom had a dream about my oldest sister drowning. It scared her to death so she said, ‘My kids are going to swim,’” Hanson said.
“I started competitively when I was 4. Before that we were taking swim lessons. My sister Lea joined the swim team when she was 9 and Rachel when she was 11. We all joined at the same time, except for my little brother because he was too young.”
However, Hanson’s brother eventually joined his siblings in their love for swim. Hanson showed excitement for her younger brother’s plans to join CBU’s swim and dive team in the upcoming school year.
Growing up, Hanson always wanted to become a teacher. However, reconsidering her career options led to her academic pursuit of electrical engineering, which she has maintained into her sophomore year. She also recently picked up a mathematics minor.
“It’s the perfect place for me because I’m actually really nerdy,” Hanson said. “It’s great. I love it.”
“You can do so many things. There are endless possibilities. My dad designs missiles for the U.S. Navy. There are other people that do computer programming. You can invent things, random instruments or something new that nobody has ever heard of,” Hanson said.
Although a heavy academic load and a daily practice schedule keep her busy, Hanson enjoys singing and playing music in her downtime.
“We have always been a really musical family so I love to sing and play instruments. It’s just a hobby now. When I was little, we used to go to recitals and everything. Now I just do it when I want to relax … I play the violin, the piano, a little bit of guitar, the organ and I used to play the flute,” Hanson said.Hanson revealed that she and her brother used to play the piano and organ together for special music at their church.
During a regular school week, Hanson has swim practice every day Monday through Friday on top of an 18-unit workload for school.
“I can’t imagine what I would be doing with my time if I wasn’t swimming. It’s something I’ve done my whole life,” Hanson said.
Spending so much time together at practice and at meets has developed strong friendships between Hanson and her teammates.
“It’s really nice when we’re doing workouts because we really bond together — especially over ‘victory’ week … it was over Christmas break. We did six hours of training a day and definitely were together for a long time. We’re kind of like family … sometimes we could get sick of each other, but we really love each other at the same time,” Hanson said.
Her time at CBU has had a profound impact on her faith.
“Doing all of this is not for myself, it’s definitely for God. I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve gotten this far with all of the competitions and everything. I try to focus on not thinking about myself and focusing on God primarily before my races and everything,” Hanson said.
“Before my races, if we are in the ready room — we have these rooms that people go before finals — I try to ask the girls to pray with me. It’s the greatest thing when they give the look like, ‘What did you say?.’ It’s great to see how you can really be a difference in other people’s lives just by swimming.”