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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Senior swimmer Kelcey Johnson: the final lap

(Zach Morgan)

She steps up to the starting block, shaking her muscles loose. The whistle blows and she adjusts her goggles snugly in place, taking her mark. She is senior swimmer and co-captain Kelcey Johnson, and she is gearing up for her last season and final lap as a Quaker swimmer.

A veteran swimmer, Johnson has been swimming for twelve years, throughout her school years and on competitive summer league teams.

Just how did Johnson dip her feet into the pool for the first time?

“In general, I always tried to maintain a positive attitude while trying to encourage Kelcey to do the best she could,” said William Johnson, her father, “I made sure that my encouragement was aligned with her goals.”

Kelcey’s goals? To be the best she could be for herself and for her team.

The Quakers’ athletic website describes Johnson as a distance backstroke specialist. However, Johnson’s favorite race differs. “It’s probably a tie between the 100 free and 100 breaststroke.” said Johnson. “I love the length of each of them. The event is long enough to stretch out, but short enough to sprint.” 

Johnson swims wherever she is needed, making her the epitome of a team player. For the 2011-12 season, she has already raced all four-strokes (freestyle, breast-stroke, back-stroke and butterfly) at various distances. 

How, exactly, has this swimming all-star come so far?

“We (her family) encouraged her to try the swim team at the local pool, where she made lots of friends and improved dramatically,” said Johnson’s mother, Anne Wentling. “They called her ‘the Terminator’ because she swam on a relay with some girls who were physically smaller than her and she just dominated in the water for her age group.” 

“I clearly remember a point in sixth grade (she had begun in fifth) where something clicked and she found an ability to really dig in and succeed,” said Wentling.

From childhood to the present, Johnson has only emphasized that she deserves the title of “the Terminator.” 

Wentling’s memories of Johnson as a swimmer before attending Guilford do not stop there. 

“When the (local summer league) team, dejected with the idea of almost certain defeat, sat quietly on the bench, Kelcey got up and moved into cheerleader mode,” said Wentling. 

“She began urging them on to ‘Get up and make some noise!’ That captures Kelcey’s spirit for me.” 

Although she has been successful during the season and summer, often placing in the top three of each race, Johnson believes swimming is something more than just a way to compete.

“I love the sport. I’ve never not trained for a sport, so I enjoy the structure it provides me.  It has also taught me perseverance, dedication, and hard work.” Johnson said.

But why does she wake up at 6:30 to get in the pool and drill?

“It’s hard I assure you. I definitely don’t wake up every morning and feel rejuvenated,” Johnson said, “But if I want my teammates to come to practice, I know I can’t just tell them to come to practice. I have to practice what I preach.”

Last season at the final “home” meet against Greensboro College, she won the 100 freestyle.  

  “I remember her being very focused behind the block and she was determined to give her best,” said Head Coach Emily Wilson. “The look on her face when she realized she won was priceless.”

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