When Tommy Hannan first set foot on the campus of Mount Saint Joseph High School as a 14-year-old freshman, he didn’t know where the future would lead him. But like many Mount Men, his hard work and dedication elevated him to unexpected heights, including winning a gold medal for the United States at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
“I didn’t start swimming on a truly competitive level until I was fifteen,” said Hannan, who graduated from the Mount in 1998. “I played football as a freshman and tried lots of different things, but I always gave my best effort as I was trying to find my place. Academically, I was always challenged at Saint Joe and was held to a high standard by my teachers and administrators.”
The Catonsville native credits the demands of his Xaverian education with molding him into a man. Hannan’s favorite class at the Mount was Latin. He also excelled in his business classes. After earning many accolades as a swimmer, Hannan graduated from the Mount with a swimming scholarship to the University of Texas.
“I made so many lifelong friends in my four years at Mount Saint Joe,” added Hannan. “We are still close until this day.”
At the University of Texas, Hannan served as team captain and led the Longhorns to three national championships in four years. With his help, the Austin based school established itself as one of the preeminent collegiate swimming programs in the nation.
In 1999, Hannan started his gold medal run by taking first place at the World University Games, earning All-American honors in 17 different events. When he won a spot on the 2000 Olympic team, he found himself rooming across the hall from another Baltimore swimming legend, Michael Phelps.
“At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, the Mount Saint Joseph community was incredibly supportive,” recalled Hannan. “It was so encouraging to see people from the Mount in the stands with my mom and dad and family cheering us on.”
On Saturday, September 16, 2000, Tommy Hannan and his teammates won the gold medal for America in the 4×100 medley relay. It was the culmination of years of hard work and dedication. When Mount Saint Joe teachers and alumni talk about ‘standing on the shoulders of giants,’ they’re referring to the accomplishments of alumni like Tommy Hannan.
Looking back, Hannan credits his faith with keeping him humble and grounded. “To be good at anything, you’ve got to remain humble,” he advises.
For current Mount students, Hannan hopes they will utilize the many resources Mount Saint Joseph High School has to offer. He applauds the many opportunities for faith development and recommends identifying a mentor who can help establish short and long-term goals.
Written by Gus Singleton, Class of 2016.