As the Buccaneers’ football season wound down this past fall, senior Karl Johnson began to face a frightening reality — his career as a high school athlete was also nearing a close.
That wasn’t something Johnson was ready to accept, so he returned to a sport that he enjoyed as a freshman — swimming.
It’s been a seamless return to the pool for Johnson, as he will compete in four events at this weekend’s Division 1 state meet at Saginaw Valley State University.
“I struggled to face the reality that I was done with high school sports, and I didn’t want it to be done yet,” said Johnson, who started several games at quarterback for the Bucs’ football team. “I really wasn’t sure what to expect, so I swam a little bit after football to see how things would go.
“I had some goals, and I think I made those.”
Johnson is one of nine Buccaneers who will leave Thursday for the state meet, which features prelims on Friday and finals on Saturday. He will swim all three relays — the 200-yard medley, the 200 freestyle and the 400 freestyle relays — as well as the 100 butterfly.
Bucs’ coach Doug Thorne has been impressed with Johnson’s ability to excel in the pool, and even more impressed with Johnson’s leadership out of the water.
“Karl’s a special kid,” Thorne said. “In the 22 years I’ve been coaching at the high school level, I can count on one hand the number of kids I’ve had like him. Just him being here every day as a senior has helped us so much. He’s an outstanding athlete and extremely smart academically. To have that kid on your team, he leads by example. He’s the best teammate any of these kids could wish for.”
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