School: Upper Moreland
Favorite athlete: Missy Franklin
Favorite team: Phillies
Favorite memory competing in sports: The first time I found out that I had qualified for states in a relay my sophomore year.
Most embarrassing/funnies thing that has happened while competing in sports: My friends and I were goofing off and dancing behind the blocks before our relay, not realizing the other team and some parents were all watching us the whole time.
Music on iPod: Florence and the Machine, The Black Keys, Imagine Dragons, Lumineers, Adele
Future plans: Attend a four-year liberal arts college for biology and chemistry on the pre-health track.
Words to live by: ‘I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.” –Florence Griffith Joyner
One goal before you turn 30: To choose a career that I am very interested in, so that I love going to work everyday.
By Mary Jane Souder
Anna Hakes is quietly leaving her mark in the pool at Upper Moreland.
The senior captain advanced to states as a junior after finishing fourth in districts in the 500 freestyle last season. That’s quite an accomplishment for any swimmer, especially a swimmer who just the season before became a distance swimmer.
Still, Hakes took it in stride and did it with absolutely no fanfare.
“She’s very humble,” coach Melanie Rowland said. “Many times, no, all the time – you don’t even know that she’s taken first place except when she touches the wall, and it shows that she took first place.
“She just quietly gets out of the pool after she shakes everybody’s hand and goes and gets ready for her next event or does what I ask her to do or does what my daughter (assistant coach Amy Rowland) asks her to do. She prefers not to be recognized.”
So humble is Hakes that her coach had some stern advice for her before she went for a recent college interview.
“I said, ‘When you go to this interview, you’re not allowed to be humble. You are not allowed to be quiet, and you will tell them about your accomplishments. You need to tell them you race a 500 – that’s 20 laps. People don’t understand that. You also need to tell them you choose not to work during the school year so you can focus on your honors courses and your extra-curricular activities,’” Rowland said.
Hakes, according to Rowland, is so conscientious about her training that she asked if she could have an early morning session on Friday before she left for her college visit.
“We stopped our morning practices about three-and-a-half weeks ago,” Rowland said. “She was at the pool at 4:45. She swam close to 7,000 yards and then she showered and went to school and left for her visit at the last possible moment.”
It is that level of commitment that has allowed Hakes to excel both in the pool and in the classroom. An outstanding student, Hakes course load includes all AP classes.
“It’s a lot of time management skills obviously,” she said. “But I get as much done as I possibly can while sleeping some and keeping my sanity.
“It’s overwhelming at times, but for the most part, as long as I plan out my work, it isn’t too bad.”
In the fall, Hakes is a member of the marching band, and true to form she welcomes a challenge there as well. After playing the piccolo for three years in band, she switched to the clarinet this year. She also manages to keep a foot in the pool.
“It takes up a lot of time, so I’m not really able to make practices all the time,” Hakes said. “Sometimes I’ll go to the pool and swim on my own a little bit, and I’m able to do exercises outside of the pool.”
Hakes has been swimming since she was a youngster. She also played soccer and softball, but both of those fell by the wayside when she reached high school.
“When I got to high school, I got a lot busier with schoolwork, so I chose to focus on one sport,” she said.
When she arrived on the high school scene, Hakes competed in the backstroke and 200 IM. She experienced immediate success, advancing to districts in the 200 IM.
“She was one of those kids who could swim all the strokes, which is unusual, and you can put them in anything and everything,” Rowland said. “For whatever reason, we made her a backstroker.
“One day we were talking goals, and it came out she didn’t even like backstroke. She said, ‘Everybody swims me in it, so I swim it.’”
That opened the door for other possibilities.
“Our distance swimmer graduated, and she (coach Rowland) had everyone try the 500 at least a couple of times,” Hakes said. “At first, obviously, it’s overwhelming.
“It’s 20 laps, and if you’re not used to it, it can be a little scary. Once I started doing it, I got a lot more comfortable. Now I would rather do 20 laps than four.”
Hakes was a natural as a distance swimmer and as a sophomore finished eighth in districts.
“With longer events, you can get into a rhythm more,” she said. “At least for me, it’s a lot more mental being able to push yourself through the whole event.
“I find I’m one of those people even when I’m tired and you really just want to stop but mentally you can find something within yourself to keep going.
“With the 100 or 50, it’s go as fast as you can, and it’s over before you know it. The 500 – there’s more to it, there’s more for you to think about, and I’m the kind of person – once I get into a rhythm, I can just keep going, and I barely even notice it.”
Hakes had found a home, and with the addition of Amy Rowland, who had just completed her collegiate swimming career at East Stroudsburg, to the staff, a new training plan was devised for Hakes.
“We kind of did what we had done with our distance swimmers in the past that worked successfully and connected with what Amy did in college,” Rowland said. “We put her on something very different and very new, and she really responded to it last year.”
A trip to states last year confirmed that Hakes was on the right path.
“I remember when I came in fourth (at districts), coach Rowland mentioned something about how it wasn’t a definite, but there was a possibility I could go to states,” Hakes recalled. “At the time, I honestly didn’t believe her.
“Going to states was something really good people had done. When she told me I had made it, it was awesome to think about.”
Although she’d never acknowledged it, Hakes is one of those ‘really good’ swimmers, and she was part of a relay team that advanced to states when she was a sophomore.
“I already had a taste of how exciting it was to make it, but knowing I could get there myself – all the work I put into it felt like it was worth it,” she said.
Hakes’ work ethic is exemplary.
“While everyone was swimming 5, 6 or 7,000 yards, she was swimming 9 or 10,000 yards,” Rowland said. “She would just get in and go and go.
“Some kids would say, ‘I’m still in the water and everyone else is done.’ Not her. She would say, ‘What do I have to do next?’ Last year she swam by herself. We didn’t have another distance swimmer. If you talk about competing totally against yourself and the clock, that’s what she did. That’s not an easy thing do, especially when you’re a distance swimmer.”
Hakes’ influence is evidenced by the fact that the team went from one distance swimmer last year to six this season.
“Really, whether she thinks she has anything to do with it or not – a lot of it has to do with they watched her swim, and they realized it isn’t that hard,” Rowland said. “She won’t be there next year, but I’ll have five distance swimmers, and I think a lot of it is because of her. She never complained. She was a great example that way. Her teammates have nothing but good things to say about this very quiet young lady.”
In addition to swimming and her involvement with the marching band, Hakes dances recreationally, and one day a week she volunteers her time to work with a class of special needs students at the dance studio where she takes lessons. She is also a member of National Honor Society and Upper Moreland’s Key Club.
Although she is undecided on a college, swimming will be part of Hakes future. She is planning to major in biology and chemistry with her sights set on a possible career in the health field.