By Mike Beas
A change in geography can be the subtle nudge needed for an athlete to reach the next level.
Avon swimmer Hannah Jones, a resident of Rio Rancho, N.M. — located 30 miles north of Albuquerque — into the start of her sophomore year, has not only grown, but flourished, in new surroundings.
Now a senior, Jones has set three individual school records for the Orioles and is part of a fourth. Her standards are in the 50-yard freestyle (23.64 seconds), 100 backstroke (55.33) and, most recently, the 100 butterfly time of 57.01 seconds she clocked at the Hendricks County Meet at Plainfield. Jones is part of Avon’s fastest 200 medley relay (1:47.12).
She capped off her junior season by placing sixth at the state meet in the 100 backstroke and 12th in the 50 free.
“Hannah is obviously good, but her training philosophy was different than what we do here,” said Orioles swim coach Jon Karr. “It took about a year for her to train like I knew she could. Now, she’s one of our best trainers.”
Jones, who carries a 3.8 grade-point average, signed a national letter of intent to be a student-athlete at Ball State University starting the 2021-22 school year. She is leaning toward studying to become a criminal psychologist.
Jones did a Q&A with ICON:
Q: What was the biggest adjustment you experienced moving from New Mexico to Indiana?
A: It was a lot different. In New Mexico, I didn’t practice swimming at the high school. We practiced at a community pool. When I came to Indiana, I was surprised that most of the high schools had their own facility, so it was a lot more competitive here than in New Mexico. It made me a lot more nervous to compete here. It was difficult. They said county (meet) or sectional, and I had no idea what they were talking about.
Q: Were there any other schools besides Ball State that recruited you, and why does BSU seem like the right fit?
A: I was in very close contact with Indiana State, too. I loved the coach at Ball State and the atmosphere with the athletes. It wasn’t all about recruiting me as a swimmer. It was about getting to know you.
Q: When and why did you pursue swimming as your major sport?
A: I don’t know what necessarily got me started. When I was younger, I was always very active doing gymnastics, softball and tap-dancing. Swimming was just the sport that kind of stuck. My mom said I’ve always loved being in the water. I think she told me I knew how to swim before I knew how to walk.