The move has payed dividends for Hart as the CHS senior has gone on to qualify for the state tournament her first three years at Cartersville High and signed Thursday to attend the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
“I really loved gymnastics, but I got too tall. I couldn’t really do it much longer,” Hart said. “The opportunities at [the Air Force Academy] are just really great. The education is awesome. It’s one of the best schools in the country and they’re also paying me to go to school there for an awesome education.”
Hart’s senior season begins Nov. 21, but she has already racked up the accomplishments in her first three, competing in the 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 backstroke and 50 freestyle.
Hart has qualified for the state tournament in each event all three years and her highest finishes were sixth in the state in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly.
She was selected as a member of the 2012 Georgia Zone Team to compete in Dallas, Texas, which is comprised of the top swimmers from each state and won first place in July. In addition, she took the award for the highest GPA of 11th grade swimmers on the Cartersville High School swim team her junior year. She was named the Top Female Athlete for the Bartow County Swimming Championship Meet in january and qualified for and competed in seven events at NCSA Junior Nationals in Orlando, Fla.
“I like the competitiveness about it and I like how it’s an individual sport,” Hart said of why she is passionate about swimming. “You’re always racing against yourself and always competing against yourself.”
Hart also was named a member of The Daily Tribune News All-County Swim Team as a junior.
She swims year-round with Swim Atlanta at Georgia Tech with coach Doug Gjertsen, in addition to swimming for Mindy Surrett and Shannon Vogelsang at Cartersville.
“She has more work ethic than any child. She’s very, very focused, but not just on one thing,” Surrett said of Hart. “She’s focused around the board. She focuses on academics. She’s in my AP calculus class right now, actually. She’s as good in the classroom as she is in the pool.
“She’s just top-notch and I’m so excited that she’s going to Air Force.”
Making the switch from gymnastics to swimming required plenty of dedication, which Hart displayed throughout the last seven years in the classroom and in the pool.
“She is the hardest worker I have ever seen. I am so proud of her,” Dianna Hart said of her daughter. “I think it’s interesting, starting out with gymnastics, it was hard work then, so it’s always like she’s been a hard worker since the age of 3.
“She didn’t get to watch a lot of TV, didn’t get to watch all the movies when they came out, didn’t get to hang out with her friends as much as she would have liked, so she really sacrificed. I didn’t have to make her do it. It’s what she wanted to do.”
Hart is planning to study biology at USAFA and eventually wants to become a doctor.
“I didn’t initially [want to be in the service], but it grew on me,” she said. “There’s just a lot of awesome opportunities there.”
As for the upcoming swimming season, Surrett has high hopes for Hart.
“This year, I’m just looking for a top three at states,” Surrett said. “She’s been in the finals for the last two years and the semifinals her first year, so she just gets better and better.”