Sophie Hansson Aims for Another Breakout at NCAAs for NC State

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Sophie Hansson looked on as her sister, Louise Hansson, claimed two NCAA championships, turning heads with her stunning performances.

But she wasn’t the only Hansson to put together stunning performances at the NCAA championships.

Sophie Hansson was just a freshman and finished third in both breaststroke events for NC State.

It was an adjustment moving from Sweden to the U.S., starting a college life with a new team.

“I feel pretty good. Last year as a freshman, there were a lot of adjustments and it took a while before my body accepted that,” Sophie Hansson told Swimming World. “It was more the adjustment of practice. It is way more intensity. We do less yardage but more intensity. I basically go all out every day. I was happy with NCAAs. Getting third twice was better than I thought coming into the meet, and I was very happy with my times. Obviously I wanted a little more in the 100.”

Even bigger than her third-place finishes was the element she added to the Wolfpack relays.

“I was always blown away at how foreign swimmers can come from so far away and how they can transition into that. She blew up and became this breaststroke superstar. Her energy is phenomenal,” teammate Ky-lee Perry said. “It has been amazing to see her help this team in so many ways.”

Hansson’s breaststroke leg helped NC State earn All-American honors in both medley relays. In 2018, the Wolfpack swam in the B-Final in the 200 medley relay, and didn’t even score in the 400 medley. Adding Hansson was the spark the team needed to get into the A-Final.

She is hoping for a performance like that again after winning ACC titles in the 100 (57.74) and 200 (2:05.59) breaststroke events. With two weeks to go until NCAAs, she is the top seed in both events.

“It was really fun having all of those relays score really high,” she said. “Relays are a lot of fun. It is more of an individual sport in Sweden. We are competing for the team and I really like that environment. Swimming is something special.”

It is something she has been doing as long as she could walk.

“As long as I can remember. I think I started competing at 10,” she said. “My dad is a former swimmer and swim coach. He wanted us to know how to swim all four stokes. By the time we knew, we were stuck.”

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NC State’s Sophie Hansson. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Watching her sister Louise, a three-time NCAA champion at USC, has inspired Sophie.

“It has been very encouraging watching her. It was always a comfort having her on the national team. Having someone that close to you is really nice,” Sophie Hansson said. “Obviously now we are not on the same team, but it is still really great to see her at NCAAs.”

They get to swim together internationally as well. Louise has already made the 2020 Olympic team, while Sophie is hoping to join her.

“We have a specific competition called the Stockholm Open. That is the first selection meet. Then it is Mare Nostrum, the later part. I am going to Canadian trials to try to make my cut because I don’t have to travel as much,” she said. “A cut for the world is 1:07.07. Sweden has 1:06.8 as the faster time. Making the Olympics of course is the goal. My best is 1:07.05.”

She will train with her NC State teammates for NCAAs, then Olympic trials.

“I know a lot of people are red-shirting to focus on the Olympics. There is already so much swimming going on. I think it would be too much for me to do that and just stress out,” she said. “I really want to go there and swim faster than I ever have. It really helps me and everyone else succeed gives everyone  a boost to reach those goals.”

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