by Becky Kimbrell-Norris
GREENVILLE — It has been a long time since 2009 Wake Forest-Rolesville graduate Hannah Lee had some free time.
During her high school career, most of her time was spent in the pool competing, which carried over to East Carolina University, where for four years she made some waves on the Pirate swim team.
This past May, Lee wrapped up her collegiate career on a successful note. She was named East Carolina’s Outstanding Female Scholar-Athlete for 2013, and that’s not all.
Lee also received the Potash Corp. All-American honor, which is given to an athlete from each athletic team at the university with the highest grade point average.
Her list of achievements continues. She was granted the Jim Castaneda Post Graduate Scholarship, which is awarded to select student-athletes throughout the Conference USA for academics, athletics, leadership and community involvement.
She was also the College of Health and Human Performance Outstanding Senior and was a member of the chancellor’s list and an All-Conference student athlete.
As a Pirate swimmer, Lee was a two-time Conference USA Champion finalist, a four-time recipient of the league’s Academic Medal and the ECU women’s swim team captain.
“My swimming career ended in February and I can honestly say I told myself I would never swim again after I retired,” Lee said. “I can’t say I really miss the before and after class practicing, waking up at the crack of dawn to jump into cold water, and all that.”
“But I have realized it was a pretty good workout, so sometimes I try to get back into a pool and swim some laps for exercise, maybe like once a week,” Lee added.
Lee’s main events in the pool included the 100- and 200-meter butterfly and her times are ranked among East Carolina’s top 10 times overall.
“Hannah was one of the hardest working swimmers I’ve ever coached,” said Rick Kobe, head swim coach at East Carolina University. “Each day she came in with a desire and passion to give 100 percent.”
“The outstanding work ethic made her one of our top 200 flyers during her tenure and one of our great leaders,” Kobe went on to say.
Kobe said Lee’s work ethic was noticed daily by her teammates and resulted in many of her peers following her example.
“Hannah was also an outstanding student,” Kobe said. “Her leadership in and out of the pool was admired by everyone.”
Last summer, Lee took some time away from the swimming pool and spent several weeks in Africa on a global health outreach dental mission.
When Lee lists her most memorable accomplishments at East Carolina, she mentions how all of the student-athletes at the school are one big family.
“The people I had the privilege of getting to know and compete with at the school will be my greatest friends and will be like family to me for the rest of my life,” she said. “In Greenville, probably the best and most fun times were tailgating for the football games, cheering on the basketball team that won some crazy games in their tournament this year and getting to help the local community in numerous ways with all the other Pirates.”
“I guess it really is true — once a Pirate, always a Pirate,” Lee added.
What comes next for Lee are plans to attend dental school.
“I really want to become a dentist one day and am taking this next year to work and do the necessary steps to apply to dental school,” said Lee, who earned a degree in pre-health professions.
She is currently working as a dental assistant at an orthodontic office in Greenville.
Lee is the daughter of Keith Lee and Sherrie Thomas.