Photo: Alamy
The pandemic cut short Scott’s time on campus, but it helped launch her international career

The photo in front of FitzRandolph Gate was a bit late, but it still held the emotion and pride of a Tiger becoming an alumna: Hannah Scott ’21 wears a cap and gown, her arms interlocked with classmates, as she visited campus for a delayed graduation.

For Scott, the COVID lockdown that began in the spring of her junior year ended her Princeton rowing season and sent her home to Great Britain. But Scott flipped the script. “I kept going that year,” she said. “Princeton taught me about balance — not to be too much of any one thing — and I didn’t want to say no. No pause on my Princeton life, no pause on my team life.”

When the news came from the University that most students would be participating in remote instruction for her senior year, Scott decided to train with the Great Britain national team with the goal of competing at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. “I think I’m still the youngest member of the GB team to go to the Olympics,” she said through a soft smile. The five-hour time difference allowed Scott to train with the national team from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and then jump on Zoom for classes beginning at 4 p.m. Scott made the team and rowed in the quadruple sculls in Tokyo, three months after graduation.

Hannah Scott ’21
Hannah Scott ’21, an Olympian for Great Britain in 2021, donned her cap and gown at a graduation celebration with friends in 2022.
Photo: Courtesy of Hannah Scott ’21

Now, with the 2024 Paris Olympics on the horizon, Scott is once again racing for a seat on the Great Britain team. This spring will be spent at a training camp in Portugal and then racing in Varese, Italy, and Lucerne, Switzerland. No time for a trip to Reunions.

Scott first saw Princeton’s campus on her official visit as a student-athlete, which was also her first visit to America. “I wasn’t sure about America; it was so far from home. But Princeton felt like home,” she said. “This was the place I wanted to be. It just felt right.”

Scott rowed in the first varsity eight her freshman year for Lori Dauphiny, the head coach of women’s open rowing. “Lori was a key reason I came to Princeton. When I visited, I got to see her work. It’s so powerful how she leads a group of women. I just felt like I could trust her with three or four years of my life,” Scott said, before pausing briefly. “She led us in a culture of relentlessness. There were definitely no egos on our team — there just wasn’t room for that.” Another pause, this one punctuated with a soft chuckle. “Lori even taught me about female anatomy … women use their hips!”

Even though Scott’s time at Princeton was cut short by the pandemic, she made the most of two seasons with the Tigers. She was part of two Ivy League Championship teams, rowed in the NCAA Championships, and in her final season was a part of the first varsity eight that went undefeated in the regular season. “I really wanted to be shaped in those years by a coach who had the same values. I knew I would be formed in those years,” she said.

Dauphiny encouraged Scott’s Olympic pursuit, even amid a global lockdown. “We were sad I couldn’t row my senior year, but she’s one of those women who encourages you to stay grounded in reality while pursuing what you love,” Scott said.

At the 2021 Olympics, the U.S. team included the captains of Scott’s sophomore-year crew, Claire Collins ’19 and Emily Kallfelz ’19. “In the middle of the Olympic Village in Tokyo, we saw each other and started shouting across the plaza,” Scott said. “We hadn’t rowed together since COVID.”

All three are vying for spots in Paris this year, and Scott would also like to row as teammates again someday: “I’d really love to do an alumni boat for the Head of the Charles.”