Senior criminal justice major Jonathan Key knows the special pride that comes with being first. He joined the men’s swimming and diving team when it started in 2010.
“It was a risk,” Key said of his decision to join the program when it was just starting. “But everybody that came, we were all willing to take that risk. We knew we’d be able to kind of mold it into what we wanted it to be.”
Taking the risk paid off. They won the Sunshine State Conference Championships their first two years and came in second place in their third year.
“We always had a high motivation,” Key said. “We always backed each other up on the pool deck. One of the cool things was that we got to make up all the cheers because we didn’t have any.”
Key’s individual swimming accomplishments include coming in ninth place in the 400-yard individual medley and seventh place in the 200-yard breaststroke with times 4:04.50 and 2:07.22 respectively at last year’s Sunshine State Conference Championship. He competes in breaststroke and individual medley competitions with some of this best times being 59.84 for the 100-yard breaststroke and 2:07.22 for the 200-yard individual medley.
This year, the National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics awarded Key the 2013 Wilma Rudolph Student-Athlete Achievement Award. The association gives the award “to honor student athletes who have overcome great personal, academic and/or emotional odds to achieve academic success while participating in intercollegiate athletics.”
“I was surprised,” Key said of winning the award. “I didn’t really think I had a shot at it.”
To qualify for winning the award, Key wrote an essay about his struggles with dyslexia throughout college.
“If anybody saw my GPA then, they’d wonder how I was still here,” Key said. “It was a struggle at first, but I’ve never really been one to quit anything so I just worked through it as best as I could.”
Key started out as a marine biology major but later changed his major to criminal justice. He made his decision after going on a SWAT team raid with a family friend.
Though he’s just starting his senior year, Key is trying to enter the workforce in his field. He’s sent applications to the Secret Service and other law enforcement offices.
But he hasn’t set swimming aside quite yet.
“If I’m close to Olympic [Team] Trials, I’ll keep training and go to trials,” he said.
I sat down with Key and asked him a few questions.
If you could have dinner with three people, alive or dead, who would they be?
My great-great grandfather, Josephus Daniels, for sure. He was secretary of the navy, he worked with the president, and he was an ambassador to Mexico. I think that’s all really cool stuff and I’d love to talk with him about it if I had the chance. I’d have to think about the other ones.
Who would you say is your biggest fan?
My mom and my brother.
Who is your favorite athlete?
As a native of North Carolina, what do you like the most about South Florida?
No cold weather. I can go to the beach New Year’s Day and send my parents a picture while they’re at home freezing.
Who’s your favorite superhero?
Batman. Hands down.
Coke or Pepsi?
If you had to play any other sport besides swimming, which one would you choose?
What would you say is the best thing about swimming?
It teaches time management, and it keeps you in the best shape of your life.
What’s your favorite thing about your coach Hollie Bonewit-Cron?
She knows what she’s doing. If she sees something wrong with your strokes, she’ll tell you exactly what’s wrong with it. You’ll have it fixed by the end of the day.
If you were to go to the moon and you could sketch one word or phrase on the moon dust, which would it be?
Never give up.