At only 15 years old, Zara Johnson is making waves in the region with her talent.
The local swimmer with the Golden Dolphins will be heading to the provincial competition in Kamloops next weekend, and is hoping to improve on the best times she just clocked at the regionals in Kelowna.
Not only did she place in all four of her events (100 Free, 100 Back, 200 IM and 50 Free), she was also named to the regional relay team, which takes the top girls in the division from the whole region to compete in provincials.
“I won (200 IM) with a really good time which is great. Lately I’ve been more about getting personal best times rather than winning, or how I place,” said Johnson, who beat out the second place swimmer by six seconds. “I swam best times in three of my four events.”
A swimmer with the club since the age of four, Johnson has consistently been getting better and growing, and with a few more years left in high school and the club, she will only get stronger.
Swimming may be her biggest passion, but as a well-rounded athlete, Johnson also spends her winters doing gymnastics, playing high school sports, and skiing recreationally. Gymnastics in particular help keep up her strength in the offseason, which can be difficult for Golden swimmers who don’t have access to a full-size pool in the winter.
“We go down to Radium sometimes to swim for a couple hours, but it’s really tough in the winter,” said Johnson. “All the other (swim teams in the region), they start May 1 and we don’t get into the pool until about May 20, so we’re three weeks behind a lot of the other clubs when we get going.”
But that doesn’t seem to slow the Golden Dolphins, or Johnson down. The athletes, including Johnson, spend countless hours training, and almost every weekend competing throughout the summer.
“I’m in the pool 11 hours a week, sometimes more. Then I also coach some of the younger kids, so I have five hours a week of that…Sometimes I wish I had more free time in the summer, but I have so many friends in swimming so it’s really fun,” said Johnson, who says the early morning training makes it difficult to spend the summer evenings out with her friends. “You can’t really stay out late at nights before because you have to get up and swim in the morning at like 7:30. Sometimes I do get exhausted, but in the end I’m usually pretty happy about it.”
That commitment extends to the families as well, who also spend their weekends driving to swim meets. Although Johnson says her parents enjoy the lifestyle, she is grateful for their support and hard work.
All the hard work seems to be paying off, and Johnson plans to continue her efforts in the coming years, and possibly look into swimming at a university level. But at age 15, those goals are pretty far in the future.
“I don’t have any super serious goals at the moment, just have fun. Swim,” she said.
And regardless of what happens in the future with her competitive swimming, Johnson has found a lifelong passion.
“Swimming is really good for you, so I’ll definitely keep it up throughout my life. It’s like a habit for me now.”