How Hannah Moore Was Able to Rebound From a DQ to Make World Championships Team

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

When NC State graduate Hannah Moore finished the 10K on Friday at the 2019 Open Water Nationals in Miami, she was excited thinking she just punched a ticket to the World Championships. Although she did not finish in the top two, she was able to pick up a spot for the 25K thanks to her third-place finish.

But when Moore got out of the water and greeted her coach Mark Bernardino, she was informed she was issued a red card on lap five of the six-lap course. A red card in open water swimming is an automatic disqualification due to unsportsmanlike conduct or a serious infraction of the rules during a race. The lead boat was sending signals to Moore that she needed to be pulled out of the race.

But the problem was Moore never made eye contact with the boat and never knew that she was issued a yellow card (warning), let alone a red card. When she got to the finish, she told her coach she did not see either of the two yellow cards that had been issued to her for interfering with other swimmers in the race.

“That whole thing was strange for me,” Moore told Swimming World on Sunday. “I’ve never been carded before. I haven’t been doing this for long though, so that’s probably why. This is only one year exactly since I started doing open water swimming.”

“I guess I have to pay closer attention to the boat. Because apparently they were showing me a flag and when I got the second one they apparently were whistling and yelling at me, none of which I heard. So that’s also a little embarrassing because they were announcing it, too.”

The venue announcer had informed the crowd that Moore was issued a red card, meaning an automatic disqualification and that she would not be allowed to finish the race. But Moore kept going, and many people in the crowd were confused knowing she was not supposed to still be in the race.

“I think a lot of people thought I didn’t stop swimming because I was mad or something. But honestly it was because I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t hear any of it. I was pretty oblivious until after I finished and they told me and I was pretty bummed,” she said.

“I didn’t do anything intentionally. I don’t really recall during the race what I did specifically but none of it was in ill-will and I would never intentionally try to mess with someone else in their swimming.”


2019 was a huge year for open water swimmers across the world. The top ten finishers in the 10K at the World Championships this summer will automatically qualify for the Olympic Games next year in Tokyo. Therefore the top two finishers at the Open Water Nationals this weekend in Miami that would qualify for Worlds were essentially swimming in their Olympic Trials.

The stakes were high on Friday morning in Miami in the 10K race. As the race unfolded, it appeared to come down between seasoned veterans Ashley Twichell and Haley Anderson as well as young rising stars Erica Sullivan and Hannah Moore. With no lanes in open water, there is a lot of contact that can occur in a race.

With the stakes higher, the intensity of the athletes was expected to be raised, something that Moore attested to.

“I think I was just amped up and I was pretty aggressive in the 10. I probably need to calm down a little bit.”

Not knowing she had been disqualified, Moore kept on going. Knowing a spot on the Worlds team, and eventually the Olympics, was at stake, she gave it her all on the last lap of the race.

When she finished, she knew she secured a spot in the 25K for Worlds, but then she was informed she had been red carded and was disqualified.

“My heart sank a little bit. I kind of told my family that I needed a minute,” she said.

After such a disappointing moment in her career, she knew she had to rebound mentally because she would have another chance to make Worlds two days later in the 5K.

So what did she do to come back after that?

“I thought about how grateful I am to be doing this in the first place. I think a lot of us forget that swimming is a very first-world problem. I am very lucky to be able to train and compete in general. I just love this sport so much and I’m grateful for all the people it’s brought me and the friendships. I couldn’t be mad about that. It was a hell of a race so I was happy regardless whether my time counted or not.”

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Ross

After this mental reset, Moore was again involved in another tight race in the 5K with the same players. Twichell, Anderson and Sullivan, two days removed from an epic fight in the 10K, were again fighting for spots on the Worlds team in the shorter distance. And again the race was coming down to the final straightaway. Twichell started to pull away and was in a fight with Brazilian World Champion Ana Marcela Cunha, who has won three out of the last four World titles in the 25K.

Sullivan had started to trail off and it was between Anderson and Moore for the second Worlds spot behind Twichell. Moore was able to dig deep at the finish to out-touch Anderson to finish third overall and get the second American spot to make her first World Championships team.

Moore said she was pretty thrilled but that had to be a slight understatement after experiencing what she did on Friday in the 10K.

Now that she has secured a spot on the Worlds team for open water, she will have to decide if she wants to hold her spot on the World University Games team this summer, which she was scheduled to swim just the 1500.

She is still unsure what she will do moving forward this summer, but she said she wants to keep exploring open water swimming having only been around it for about 12 months.

“I guess I just have a knack for fighting hard. I’ve improved a good bit so I’ll keep going.”

7 comments

  1. Amy Moore

    So proud of you ❤️

    • avatar
      Fiona

      Hannah sounds like a girl with a great spirit and lots of drive – you have every right to be proud of her! Congratulations to Hannah!

  2. avatar
    Viv Lund

    Just amazing! Congratulations, Hannah!

  3. avatar
    Healy Family

    Congratulations Hannah!!

  4. avatar
    Angela Georgallis

    Congratulations, Hannah – and Moore family! Very exciting, and what a great story – total grit. We’d expect nothing less of a member of the Moore crew!

  5. avatar
    Dana Bartels

    Congratulations Hannah!!! Keep pushing!!