Cooper Johnson’s key to swimming success is a product of his quest for improvement


Starting a new sports regimen can be challenging for students entering their first high school months, mainly if it includes waking up an hour early to an alarm to work out, which freshman Cooper Johnson unexpectedly experienced firsthand when he found his entire sleep schedule adjusted for his swimming practices. 

“I have to get up at 5:30 [a.m. on] Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning to [go to] practice where I work out for an hour,” Cooper said. “And, I [also] chose the very, very stupid decision to take strength and conditioning second semester plus practice every day.”

Cooper joined the middle school swim team at the age of 12 after he moved into the community with his family.

Cooper recalls that the offer to join the swim and dive team initially came from his parents who advertised the sport as a bright opportunity for the young middle-schooler, who at the time was looking for ways to fill his time in the aftermath of the pandemic.

That summer, Cooper experienced some of the harshest training drills he had endured in his life; however, he persevered through and joined the team the following year.

“[Swim] helped me become much more active and [get] out of the house,” Cooper said, “because if not, I would just be inside all day and occasionally hanging out with friends.”

After joining the high school team, however, he found the training increasingly difficult.

The swim and dive team usually has a six-day practice week with afternoon practices going on from 5:15 to 7:00 p.m. at the aquatic center—only getting a reprieve on the weekends—however, the morning practices started way earlier in the morning.

The morning practices usually consist of working out core and leg muscles in the fitness center attached to the school, usually run by coach Tim Rogers. 

One time, something happened that made his day a little brighter. 

“About two weeks ago, in morning practice, we were doing deadlifts, and the strength and conditioning coach, coach Rogers, saw me doing deadlifts.” Cooper said, “And then when I went to the afternoon class, he let me sit the deadlifts out.”

What I’ve learned is that even if someone has never done a sport other than swimming, like myself, you can get decent in that sport even if you’ve never really been active before.

— Cooper Johnson

Typically, the morning practices tend to work on building the muscle or character of the swimmer, making them more prepared for enduring hours upon hours of swimming at their meets.

Cooper has gradually started improving his technique in weightlifting and so far has been improving steadily throughout the year.

“What I’ve learned is that even if someone has never done a sport other than swimming, like myself, you can get decent in that sport even if you’ve never really been active before.” Cooper said, “It’ll take time to get used to it, but eventually it’ll work out.”

While Cooper does sometimes feel discouraged, his devotion to the improvement of his skills—whether that be increasing his weight in the training room or winning his first 100 freestyle—has proven his determination and persistence to thrive.

Although he was never sure he could succeed, Cooper has continued to strive for his goals and keep an open mind as he continues forward to further achievements in his swimming career.

“It’s tough. But even for me, I got through it, which I was surprised by,” Cooper said. “After the first couple of weeks of morning practice, I didn’t want to do anything except sleep and lay in my bed. It was rough, but eventually, I got better.”