“Once you get used to it, you start to realize that you’ll be in that spot and you won’t have to worry.”
But Johnson didn’t let the intimidation discourage him from pursuing his dreams. Looze said that soon after Johnson arrived on campus, he knew that Griner had been right. He may not have the fastest swimmer in Johnson, but he was never going to be out-worked.
“Kyle has a positive chip on his shoulder,” Looze said. “Intangibles can really get you over the top. Kyle has all of those, and he’s worked just so hard to put himself in a position to help our team, and I really think he’s going to be able to do that as a sophomore.
“If there is a voluntary activity, you can bet your bottom dollar Kyle will be at it. There is no ‘voluntary’ to Kyle Johnson. He will be at everything.”
Johnson’s hard work managed to pay off in the end. At the Big Ten Championships, he swam career bests in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 21.19 seconds to finish 60th and took 57th in the 100-meter freestyle with a career mark of 46.13 seconds. He also swam the 100-meter butterfly and took 35th with a time of 49.54 seconds.
But even with an eye-opening start to his college career and countless hours in the pool, Johnson said he’s even had some time to enjoy the perks of being a student athlete on such a lively college campus.
Sure, having a successful collegiate swimming career was what Johnson was looking for at first, but Bloomington hasn’t lost that family appeal he felt when he first met Looze and the rest of the IU coaching staff.
“It just feels nice to be in a place where no matter where you go, you’re recognized as an athlete, and you’re kinda idolized,” he said. “People will come up and talk to you and ask you how your sport’s going. It feels good.”
“It’s a good kind of different.”