Sophomore qualifies for Olympic trials

Westminster sophomore Gigi Johnson recently qualified for the Olympic trials this past summer during her national meet in California. Johnson has been swimming for many years at Swim Atlanta where she attends many practices every week, including morning practices before school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Johnson was thrilled to qualify.“I was so surprised and I couldn’t believe it,” said Johnson. “Going into the race, I had no expectations at all because it was a new experience and I had no idea how it was going to turn out. When I looked up at the board, I thought I had read my time wrong because I didn’t think I could have done that.” 

Gigi will compete at the trials this June in Omaha, Nebraska, but her training regiment and schedule will change before then in order to properly prepare for the trials. She will be attending more large travel meets to gain experience before the Olympic trials this summer. 

Gigi has many strengths in swimming, but her work ethic is among her strongest talents. “My ability to go to practice everyday and put in my best effort and work hard but also to recover after days that may have not been as good as they could have been in the pool helps put me where I am,” said Johnson.

As an athlete, it’s important to find the proper balance between pushing oneself, but also allowing oneself to make mistakes. Gigi is able to find this balance quite regularly. She also places importance on experience and the little details. She believes success comes with finishing each race because she matures and learns from each competition. She also believes every time she dives into the pool is another opportunity to improve and better her event. “Even if you didn’t improve or drop time, it’s a success because you gain experience that you can learn from that you didn’t have before,” said Johnson.

Gigi also had lots of success at the most recent State Championship Meet this spring when competing for Westminster. Gigi was so successful that she will be receiving the GHSA Swimmer of the Year Award, even though she competed as a freshman. This award is extremely difficult to obtain overall, but especially as a freshman, which further demonstrates Gigi’s talent.

The Westminster head swimming coach, Coach Loughran, spoke to Gigi’s positive attitude. “Not only does Gigi have an amazing work ethic, but she also is just happy, has an amazing spirit, and is just fun to be around,” said Loughran. “She’s pulling everybody with her, which is a very special characteristic.”  

Coach Loughran also noted that while Gigi is a very serious competitor, she also cares about others, and kids struggle to balance both of these qualities. “A lot of times kids have to focus just on themselves to succeed, but that’s just not the case with Gigi,” said Loughran. “She’s so mature. A mature competitor, and a mature person.” 

To add to the gravity of Gigi’s accomplishment, there have been very few swimmers in Westminster’s history to qualify for the trials. Only swimmers Jeff Dash, Miller Douglas and a few others have managed to qualify, making Gigi part of a small and exclusive club. 

Coach Loughran is not the only person to have noticed Gigi in practice. Fellow swimmer, Annie Jardina, admires her friend’s talents. 

“She works very hard and never slacks off in practice,” said Jardina. “She is so inspiring to me in the way she stays motivated throughout the whole workout and makes the most of it. You can usually find her in the front of the lane making all the intervals.” 

Anyone who has swam before knows that it is a very taxing sport and can test one’s endurance and pain resistance. To stay motivated throughout the numerous practices Gigi attends is no doubt extremely difficult, and goes to show just how much work Gigi puts into this sport. 

But once again, Gigi makes her mark not just with her work ethic, but also with her spirit throughout practice. “Gigi always comes to practice smiling and cheerful to get in the pool,” said Jardina. “Even when we have had a really tough week and we are really sore, she still comes in laughing to lighten up everyone’s mood.”

Another swimmer, Miles Clayton, had similar compliments for Gigi. “She is extremely dedicated and focused throughout the entirety of our practices,” said Clayton. “I have never seen her take a day off or slack off during any set.” Gigi also cares for others, and is able to stay focused during practice while also staying concerned for others. 

Even with all of her astounding accomplishments, her attitude has not changed. “She is very helpful to others, and is never discouraging or condescending,” said Clayton. “She is always willing to make friends with everyone on the team. She is a positive influence and a strong example to other swimmers looking to reach her level. She is always encouraging, respectful of others, laughs a lot, and all around makes the pool a more enjoyable place.”  

 Although the trials still remain months away, Gigi has already begun her training and no doubt will give her best effort to do the best she possibly can in June. Even with her added training and travelling, Gigi will also definitely remain lighthearted and happy, just as all of her teammates know her. No matter what happens at the trials, Gigi has already gone above and beyond in her achievements.