After Barely Six Years Of Competitive Experience, Zoie Hartman Has Turned Herself Into A National-Level Swimmer With No Signs Of Slowing •
If it seems as though Zoie Hartman’s rise to elite swimmer was an immediate success story — well, it really was. All things considered.
After she wrapped up her Monte Vista High career with a May that included four North Coast Section titles, one NCS record-breaking swim and her third and fourth career CIF State Championship swims, it’s hard to believe she was practically a novice just three years earlier.
Hartman only began competitive year-round swimming two years before she arrived on the Danville campus in late summer of 2015. But by the following summer, she was at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha.
And only then did it really dawn on her how good of a swimmer she could be.
“It was my first year swimming long course in the summer,” Hartman recalled. “I got my trial cut at the Summer Sanders event (in Roseville). Right away I had teammates running up to me saying ‘Oh my God, you just got your Olympic trial cut! That’s so exciting.’ And I was like ‘Yeah, what does that mean?’”
Hartman didn’t join a swim team until she was 12. That’s when her family moved from Arizona to the Bay Area. Both her parents had played collegiate basketball for Simpson College in Iowa and they encouraged Zoie to try a number of sports early on. She tried softball, soccer and basketball while living in Arizona.
None of them stuck like swimming did.
She transitioned to year-round swimming with the Crow Canyon Sharks Club pretty quickly. Sharks head coach Ethan Hall saw the building blocks for a standout swimmer almost immediately.
“It was just her second year swimming,” Hall said. “She was definitely tall and strong, and had a lot of power — but she was still learning the strokes. … She was raw and she had a lot to learn. (Zoie) was just a really hard worker and took instruction very very well.”
She qualified for junior nationals in her first year of competitive swimming.
“That’s pretty abnormal,’ Hall said. “She then got that Olympic cut in the 100 meter breaststroke and that opened her eyes to what she could be. In Omaha at Olympic Trials she got to see what the top of the sport was doing. She set a goal at that point to get back there, and she’s worked her way pretty close.”
Another Bay Area swimmer competing at the 2016 Olympic Trials was a Stanford student named Maya DiRado. She would make the Olympic team and come home from Rio de Janeiro with two golds, one silver and a bronze.
It was her NCS Championships record that Hartman erased on May 4.
Hartman’s NCS finals time of 1 minute, 55.76 seconds was more than four-tenths of a second faster than the 1:56.17 mark DiRado set in her senior year at Maria Carrillo-Santa Rosa in 2010.
And get this: It wasn’t even Hartman’s fastest career 200 IM. She broke 1 minute, 54 seconds at the junior national in August 2018.
Hartman paired her record swim in the 200 IM with a 100 breaststroke championship. She also swam the second leg on Monte Vista’s 200 freestyle relay championship team, and was the anchor leg to the 400 freestyle relay championship quartet. Not surprisingly, Monte Vista won the girls team title.
“I really didn’t have a ton of goals,” Hartman said of her approach to her final high school season. “I just really wanted to make it a really enjoyable senior year for me. (Especially after) I was focused on so many goals in my sophomore and junior years. I just told myself that I’m going to swim my hardest — whatever that makes of it, that’s what will happen.”
That seemed to work out alright.
A week after her five-title NCS Saturday, Hartman defended her CIF State Championships in both the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke.
None of these performances surprised Hall.
“People look at her and see the long arms and her height and they assume she’s a natural,” the coach said. “But I’ve never coached a swimmer more consistent and dedicated. We train 20 hours of week and she hasn’t missed a moment of that training for four years. She trains through all the things that get in other swimmers’ way — illness, homework, whatever.
“That’s her biggest superpower: She continues to show up day-in and day-out no matter what.”
That superpower will travel with her wherever she goes. For the next four years, that means the University of Georgia.
“When I went there on my unofficial visit and walked on to the pool deck, it was just a very welcoming atmosphere,” Hartman said. “I was really looking for something like that. Academically they had programs there that excited me. It just felt right.”
Hartman plans to major in exercise and sports science with an eye on a career in physical therapy.
Before she flies off to Athens, Georgia, she’ll compete in one more major Bay Area meet — the USA Swimming Senior Nationals from July 31-Aug. 4 at Stanford. She’s got qualifying marks in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, 100 and 200 breaststroke and 200 IM.
That will be her take-off point for the next level — and she’s approaching it with the same level-headed work ethic that’s driven her along this accelerated path of success.
“I just want to try and get better,” she said. “Whether that’s in my swimming or my academics, I know there’s always room for improvement.”
Hall expects she’ll find that improvement. And quickly. It’s what she does.
“Georgia coach Jack Bauerle has developed national athletes in the past,” Hall said. “The school has all the facilities and resources Zoie needs to take it to the next level. She’ll be a valuable Georgia Bulldog from the outset, and it will only help her.”
It will probably go well for the Bulldogs as well.