Like all of us, Lucas Johnson and Georgia Johnson are experiencing an upheaval in their daily lives and an uncertain future.
Swimmers are perhaps bigger creatures of habit than anyone on the planet, and The Free Lance-Star’s two-time swimmers of the year are almost literally fish on dry land at the moment.
“It’s very hard when you’re used to getting up, swimming in the morning and going on to your other obligations,” Lucas Johnson said. “When I’m pressed for time, that’s when I buckle down and get determined to get everything done.
“When I don’t lack for time, I find myself procrastinating a lot more. It’s harder to find motivation.”
No one would blame Lucas Johnson, a Colonial Forge senior, or Georgia Johnson, an unrelated Mountain View senior, for enjoying a respite after dedicating themselves to their sport for the past several years. But the novel coronavirus has prevented both from even training with their club teams (he with the Rays, she with National Capital Swim Club), and they’re both starting to get antsy.
“While you’re doing it, you don’t wake up and look forward to going to practice,” Georgia Johnson said with a laugh. “But after a while, you think, ‘I wish I was waking up at 3:30 a.m.’ It’s nice to recover for a little bit, but you do realize how much you miss your sport.”
Although club swimming takes up more of their time, both Stafford County standouts were glad they were able to complete their successful senior seasons with their respective high school teams—albeit for different reasons.
Georgia Johnson, who began swimming almost before she could walk, capped her career at Mountain View by finishing second in the Class 5 state meet in the 100-yard breaststroke and fourth in the 200 individual medley. She also swam on two fifth-place relay teams for the Wildcats.
She enjoyed the enhanced camaraderie with her teammates, especially fellow senior Shay Walker. She also appreciated competing at at state meet—a chance she noted many of her classmates won’t get, thanks to the coronavirus.
“You feel like you definitely take it for granted,” she said. “So many spring sports athletes didn’t get to have a senior season. I really enjoyed things like senior night and the feeling after the last relay at state. We got to have closure and say goodbye to high school.”
She has qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials, which are now unlikely to be held until next year. By that time, she’ll have a year’s experience at the University of South Carolina behind her.
Lucas Johnson, who said he didn’t get serious about swimming until his sophomore season, is also looking forward to matriculating to Duke University in the fall. He, too, found satisfaction in his senior season of high school swimming, thanks to some rare adversity.
“Colonial Forge swimming was where I got to be a leader and a role model, which I don’t get as much of a chance to do with my club team,” he said. “I got to have fun, which I have a hard timing having when I take my [club] races so seriously. I’m glad it ended the way it did.”
Eagles coach Bianca West noticed Johnson taking more ownership of his team as a senior, particularly after he chose to attend Duke. He was asked to swim some events that weren’t his strongest but did so willingly.
“I saw him step up more last year,” West said. “He was always there.”
And at the Class 6 state meet, Johnson’s schedule was upended when fellow senior Russell Smith was injured in preliminaries, torpedoing the Eagles’ chances in the relays. Johnson admitted the chaos affected his concentration in his individual swims, but he still managed to finish fifth in both the 200 freestyle and 100 butterfly.
He was prouder of his efforts at the Region 6B meet, where he won the 200 free, was runner-up in the fly and anchored the Eagles’ first-place 200 free relay.
Although their respective schools have plenty of strong swimmers returning, both Johnsons will leave impressive legacies.
“We had something really special,” Mountain View coach Michelle Stambaugh said after the Class 5 state meet.
Added Colonial Forge’s West: “It’ll leave a void. ... I have a lot of juniors fighting for his spot, almost my go-to guy who says, ‘I can go to and win any event.’ We’re really going to miss Lucas, but I’m optimistic.”