Patriots Parting Ways to Swim in College

Albemarle High School seniors Hannah Harper and Corie Morton have spent a lot of their lives in the swimming pool. And they're both eager to stay in the pool in college.

Both swimmers committed to Division I programs last month. And on Thursday, AHS honored the teammates with a ceremony celebrating their signings -- Harper with Penn State, and Morton with Towson.

"When I went to visit Towson, I completely fell in love with it," Morton said. "I loved the coaching staff, and how successful they've been. And the teammates, I just felt like I'd really fit in with them there."

"When I hung up the phone, I was like, "Is this even real?" I didn't even feel like it was real," said Harper. "It hasn't even really sunk in yet. I feel like it's such a blessing to be able to get to this level. And it feels really good."

Both girls are preparing for their senior seasons at AHS -- where Morton holds two individtual school records and was a captain last season, and Harper is a six-time state finalist and team MVP.

Both also swim for the club Virginia Gators, where they've been coached by JJ Bean basically since first getting in the pool.

"These girls have worked hard for what they've got," Bean said Thursday. "They've been at the pool every day for the last six years. They're willing to put in the work."

Morton expects to swim freestyle and breaststroke at Towson. She picked the Tigers over James Madison, Delaware, and Connecticut.

"I thought it was going to be tough, but it really wasn't. After I went and visited other schools, Towson just, I knew I'd fit in there," she said. "I'm so excited, and grateful to have this opportunity."

Harper expects to swim butterfly and the individual medley in Happy Valley. Her other finalists included Indiana, Virginia Tech, and William & Mary, but called Penn State "a perfect fit."

"I'm so excited to be a Big Ten athlete," she said. "Just to even say you're a Big Ten athlete is a really big deal. And all the Big Ten schools have so much school spirit, and I'm really looking forward to being a part of that."

And Bean, for one, is expecting big things from both swimmers at the college level.

"I'm extremely proud of everything they've done up to this point. But I also know that from here on out, they're going to keep working hard, and keep achieving, and keep doing great things."

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