Captain’s Corner: Grant Johnson ’17

Grant Johnson '17. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.
Grant Johnson ’17. Photo courtesy of Sports Information.

Grant Johnson ’17

Men’s swimming

Cincinnati, Ohio

Residence: Poker Flats


What age were you when you started swimming?

I started swimming when I was seven.

What brought you toward swimming instead of pursuing other sports?

I was doing a lot of sports then because, when you’re a kid in elementary school, you’re playing a lot of different sports. I started swimming because I knew my dad swam in high school and I had always wanted to try it. After first grade was the first year my parents felt that I could swim well enough to try out for the local summer team at the town pool, so I went ahead and tried that.

What was your swimming experience like in high school?

I had a great experience in high school. I swam at a large, all-boys Jesuit high school. We had the top team and it’s still the top team in Ohio. There were over 80 guys on our team, so it was a huge team. I swam really fast and got better because of it, but swimming with all those guys and the team culture was what kept me going and drove me in high school. It was just an incredible culture.

Have you always swum the same events or have you switched around throughout your career?

I’ve definitely changed. When I was younger, I was a distance swimmer, but I kind of swam almost everything through the middle of my swimming career. In high school, I remember there was a meet where there were qualifying times and I made it in two longer events and one shorter event, which showed the breadth of events I could swim. The next year, for my high school season, we had a lot of people who could swim the longer events, but no one who could swim the shorter events, so they just put me in the shorter events in every meet. From then on, I’ve had to swim sprint events, which I’m not going to complain about.

What events do you swim mostly for Williams?

I primarily swim the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle.

What’s your favorite thing about those events?

I think they’re just fun because I think the most fun part of the sport is racing, and those events are such a pure race. You get up there, whether it’s for 20 seconds or whether it be a minute and 40 seconds, and you are going up against one or two people. It’s just a lot of fun.

What types of factors brought you to Williams?

I was looking at a variety of schools, but there were two main things that brought me here. One of them was its academics, and visiting here, I thought it would be a place I’d be happy to go to even if I wasn’t an athlete. And the team culture I mentioned in high school I also sensed was on the team here, and that really drew me to Williams.

What has the team culture been like here at Williams?

It’s been great. The guys on the team are amazing. It’s the kind of thing where I feel like, for the rest of my life, if one of the guys on the team calls me and is in [any] sort of trouble, I’d take the time to call them. Just everyone is so tight, and everyone has each others’ backs, yet, at the same time, people are willing to call you out if you aren’t doing things properly.

Who would you say is your favorite professional swimmer?

Probably Conor Dwyer right now. He swims similar events to me. It probably would have been [Ryan] Lochte before, but I think a lot of people don’t like him now after what he did at the Olympics this year. And I don’t really like [Michael] Phelps because, within the swimming world, people who grew up swimming around him didn’t like him.

What has the experience been like so far as a captain? Has it been different from other years?

I would say it hasn’t been that different from being someone else on the team. There has always been and there always will be room on the team to step up and be a leader, and honestly a lot of the responsibilities are shared among people in the senior class, so I’d say being a captain is similar to every other year. One thing I’d say is that the freshmen and sophomores came in this year with a lot of energy and really bought into the team culture right away, and that has made my job as a captain a lot easier.

What’s your go-to snack bar order?

Quesadilla with a side of guac.