13-year-old Marinovich making big splash in pool


FRESNO, Calif. – Hannah Marinovich is your typical 13-year-old girl. Among other things, she loves baking and hanging out with friends. She also just happens to be the one of the best young swimmers in the country.

“Before I was even one (year-old),” I was already in the pool,” says Hannah.

By the age of seven, she was competing and winning.

“She swam for the summer league team (when she was seven),” says her mother Bethany. “And at the championships, she won the 25-yard breaststroke.”

Six years later, the 13-year-old has graduated from summer league teams, to thinking about a future on U.S. national teams.

“My biggest goal is to just hopefully, break a world record and win gold at the Olympics,” says Hannah.

John McGough, her coach with the Clovis Swim Club, says Hannah is by far, the best female breaststroker at her age, that he’s ever had in his program.

“I think she has a very bright future,” says McGough. “And she can be as good as she wants to be, as long as she can continue to enjoy it.”

She showed her potential in late February, at a big sectional swimming event on the campus of Texas A&M.

She finished second in the 200-meter backstroke that day, in a race featuring some very accomplished swimmers.

Her time shattered her previous personal best in the event by nearly five seconds, and was over four seconds better than the time needed to qualify for the Olympic Trials. It was the fastest-ever time for a 13-year-old in the event, and at the time, she became the youngest qualifier for the Trials.

“I was just over the moon excited,” says Hannah.

Swimming runs in the Marinovich family. Her mother swam at Fresno State, and her father David is an ex-water polo player at Bullard, and ex-water polo coach at several schools in Fresno.

“I kind of feel like I’m living my dreams through her, and it’s just so much fun,” says Bethany. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have a child who is as fast as Hannah has become.”

Hannah won’t necessarily ‘wow you’ with her height or strength.

“I’m always the smallest one next to everyone (at big races),” says Hannah.

But McGough says she makes up for it with a tremendous attitude and work ethic, and a special physical trait that makes her uniquely suited to create propulsion during the breaststroke.

“Being able to turn the ankles out, or turn the feet out, and having the ankle flexibility to do it,” says McGough.

If the Olympic Trials had been held this year, McGough originally thought a top-16 finish in the 200-meter backstroke at the Trials would have been a great accomplishment for Hannah. But with the Trials getting pushed back a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, it might help Hannah a little more than the rest, since she’s developing so fast at such a young age.

“I may be small and only 13,” says Hannah. “But I have so much to offer and bring to the table.”

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