The multi-sport athlete loved the water the first time she jumped in

By Jenelyn Russo     5/10/2015

When Hannah Rapp took her first dip in the pool as a four-year-old during a summer swim league program, her bond with the water was instantaneous.

“As soon as I got in the water I fell in love with it,” says Rapp. “It’s my passion.”

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The Mater Dei High School senior swimmer has been in the pool ever since, specializing in distance events that include the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle. The 18-year-old Rapp also plays water polo for the Monarchs, requiring the multi-sport athlete to spend several hours each week in the water. And that’s exactly where Rapp feels she belongs.

“When I’m in the water, it’s just me, and all I think about is trying to get better and having fun with my teammates,” says Rapp. “Being in the water is something I just love to do.”

The three-year member of the Mater Dei varsity girls swim team is in her second year as captain and enjoys leading this tight-knit group of swimmers, something that will be hard to leave come graduation day.

“I get to be [both] a friend and a teammate to everyone,” says Rapp of being a captain. “I’m definitely going to miss the team the most.”

Swimming head coach Ken Dory says that Rapp’s leadership style is focused entirely on how she can serve the team.

“Hannah is always thinking about the team, or what I need, or what she can do to help,” says Dory. “She has the unique ability of balancing her own swims and how that affects the team. She’s always positive and can get across to anyone. Our program here is getting stronger because of athletes like Hannah.”

When she’s not competing, Rapp still spends time at the pool as a lifeguard at the Woollett Aquatics Center in Irvine. As a member of Mater Dei’s Campus Ministry Team, Rapp also is a Eucharistic Minister. “Faith is very important to me,” she says, “and it is a daily necessity in my life.”

Rapp also has a heart for the special needs community and volunteers at the J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center in San Juan Capistrano, where she teaches kids with special needs how to ride horses.

Not surprisingly, the Irvine resident’s college plans involve staying in the pool, as Rapp is headed north to the University of the Pacific, where she will play Division I water polo for the Tigers and possibly swim as well.

But it’s Rapp’s spirit of serving that will have her studying speech and language therapy, with future plans that include working with special needs children.

Following in the footsteps of her mother, who is also a speech therapist, Rapp remains inspired by her biggest role model.

“Through everything she does, she does it with easiness and compassion,” says Rapp of her mother. “That’s what I hope to be.”