Saluki Media Service
Saluki freshman swimmer Hannah Reiser is new to Carbondale, but she is no stranger to settling into a new town, or even country.
Reiser was born more than 8,500 miles away in South Africa. The Reiser family resided in South Africa until she was 13 when they moved to Pleasant Plains. It was difficult for the Reisers to leave their home in South Africa, but finding a new home in Illinois was easy because Hannah’s father, Troy, met her mother, Jackie, while she swam at SIU.
The move was one of the most dramatic changes Reiser has every gone through, but she said it has been for the best. Living in the United States presented a new feeling of safety that her family did not have in South Africa as well as a wealth of new possibilities.
“I went from the city to a farm. From always worrying about our security and safety to not locking our doors at night,” Reiser said. “My family lives on a farm now. In South Africa we had walls, gates and alarm systems at our house. That was a huge change.”
Apart from a safer lifestyle, Reiser has benefited from the United States education and youth sport systems which she said are better. She also said there would not have been an opportunity to receive financial assistance to pay for college or swim in college if her family stayed in South Africa.
Despite where Reiser lived, one of the constants in her life has always been sports. Reiser said she played all of the sports she could growing up. In high school, she played basketball as a freshman, but swimming has always been her passion.
Reiser swam all throughout high school and began attracting attention from several Division I programs. When it came to choosing her destination for college, SIU was not at the top of her list. Reiser said she wanted to blaze her own trail instead of following her parents path to SIU. Originally, she looked at Missouri State, Indiana State, Butler and SLU as potential destinations, but that all changed when she met SIU’s coaches Rick Walker and Elise Knoche.
“My mom encouraged me to reach out to Rick and Elise. I met Rick first and I loved his coaching style and that he doesn’t just care about swimming, but your schooling and mental health as well,” She said. “When I took my recruiting trip and met the team that solidified it for me. I’ve swam on a lot of teams and this is the most fun one I’ve ever been on.”
While Reiser’s road to Carbondale has been a long and winding one, she said she wouldn’t change any bit of it. Her life experiences opened her up to different perspectives and possibilities that the typical freshman in college has not had the chance to experience.
Reiser’s chapter at SIU is just beginning as a student and an athlete. She swam in her first collegiate Friday when the Salukis took on Lindenwood to open the 2017-18 season at the SIU Recreation Center Pool.