By RANDI ROSSMANN
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Analy High School senior Nick Johnson loves swimming but doesn’t always have a great time at pool parties.
That’s probably because pools remind the longtime competitive swimmer more of training and concentration than of fun.
The 17-year-old Sebastopol native trains 50 weeks a year, six days a week and has been competing in swim meets since he was about 6 years old.
Until two years ago, he swam with the Sebastopol Sea Serpents. Now he directs his attention to the school team and, in bigger pools, to Neptune Swimming in Santa Rosa.
“I still love it. It’s getting progressively harder. The faster you get, the more you have to work,” Johnson said.
Swimming is taking him places and is earning him the attention of prospective colleges.
“I want to swim NCAA in college. I don’t think I’m Olympics-bound, but I’d like to go far in college,” Johnson said.
His Neptunes coach, Dan Greaves, said Johnson continues to improve.
“He has set himself up to have a successful collegiate career,” Greaves said. “He likes the idea of racing and being fast. He’s a competitive kid.”
Johnson has performed throughout California and in meets around the West, trying to whittle his times. His best races are the 100- and 200-yard breast stroke and 50-yard freestyle.
As a junior, Johnson qualified for sectionals in Long Beach and the prestigious Santa Clara International Grand Prix. He swam against some of the nation’s best, just not in the same heat.
“I got to compete with Olympians,” he said. “I tried to play it cool, say ‘Hi,’ congratulate them on their swim.”
He also paid attention, hoping to learn by watching.
Out of the water, swimming still plays a prominent role in Johnson’s life as he serves his third year as a teen representative for USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body.
USA Swimming also conducts national championships and selects the swimmers who will represent the U.S. in international competition.
As a teen rep for the North Bay region, Johnson attends monthly meetings in Oakland and went to Dallas last spring for a U.S. Aquatics Convention. Participating has taught him leadership skills and made him aware of how much is involved on the official side of his sport.
“I get to voice my opinion (and opinions of) the swimmers around my county,” he said.
In Dallas, he participated in a lengthy discussion about the need for background checks for coaches and others involved in swimming. He also learned about the how many people die each year by drowning.
“It really shocked me,” he said.
Johnson was inspired to do something about it, including promoting the “Make A Splash” program that provides free swimming lessons to kids.
“I want to see if we can get more of the program around here,” he said.
At Analy, Johnson is in his third year of studying filming and film editing.
“We have a TV show at school, and I direct that every other week,” he said.
He enjoys it so much he’s considering a career in the industry.
When not swimming, you can finding him surfing or cooking, a hobby he pursues by making pasta dishes.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or randi.rossmann@ pressdemocrat.com.
Family: Parents Greg and Kari Johnson of Sebastopol, older sister Jessica, 26
Favorite Book: “Double Take” by Kevin Michael Connolly.
Favorite music: Reggae
Hidden talent: Surfing
Dream job: Film editor
Someone I greatly admire: Grandfather Ron Knutsen