Originally from Ambler, Pennsylvania freshman Jenna Johns started her first season as a Shark by earning three SSC Swimmer of the Week awards. Driven, passionate and excited about her first year at NSU, Johns is preparing for the big events that the spring season has in store. The Sharks dominated at conference last year, and Johns is hoping to have a good performance and planning to give her best to her team.
How old were you when you started swimming?
“I started swimming when I was five. I was at our summer pool and one of the meets ran really late, and I was watching them, and I was like ‘Hey mom, I wanna try that.’ So she signed me up for the swimming team; I have been doing it since then.”
So, you have been swimming for 13 years now. Do you ever feel like you get tired of it?
“I do, but then I think how it has been so rewarding at the end, and how I love all my teammates. So, it is definitely worth it.”
Does anyone in your family swim?
“My mom used to swim. She did lacrosse and field hockey as well. I did all three growing up but I stuck with swimming.”
What are your feelings towards coach Hewitt?
“I absolutely love him. I remember I started talking to the old coaches [before Hewitt came into the program in 2015] who were here, Jack and Holly. Jack went to my high school, so I had good connections and I knew him for a long time. I remember finding out when they resigned. I was like ‘Oh my god what am I going to do?’ They ended up hiring Ben, and I came down here on my trip and I loved him. He reminded me a lot of my club coach too, which is really cool.”
You mentioned that your high school coach is one of the most influential people in your life. What can you tell us about him?
“He was just always there. Swimming is a hard sport, it’s year-round and mentally you go all over the place. He was kind of a rock, he always made sure that everything was okay. He helped keep us mentally stable while he destroyed us physically. He was just like a second dad [to me]. I saw him more than my dad during season, I was in the pool so much.”
Do you believe that you have to be very mentally persistent in swimming?
“Definitely. Your mindset going into a practice or going into a race could make you or break you. If you are not like 100 percent in, or focused, you are just kind of there; you are not into it mentally. I feel like swimming, along with it being very physical, you have to go in with the right mindset, and make sure you stay relaxed and everything in order to do well. I know that when I am the most stressed out or when is a really close race, I might not swim as well because I am not thinking about the little things I need to do. Mindset is all swimming.”
How would you describe your transition from high school to college?
“Academically, it was a lot different because in high school we have eight classes a day and your work is always due by the next day, so you don’t have to worry about timing things out. While in college, it’s like you’re on your own. You might only have one class a day but you might have assignments for different classes due the following day that you might forget; staying organized is one of my key things. The transition with swimming is mainly [lifting]. I’ve never lifted this much, so my body has undergoing a lot of changes that I am still trying to get used to, but I know it’s going to help me. I just have to accept the fact that my legs are bigger, and my arms are bigger, but I love the training. It is definitely more beneficial [than what I used to do].”
What do you like the most about being a student-athlete?
“It is really nice because in college you can get lost; there are so many people. You have to make all new friends, but coming as a student-athlete, you know you already have that instant family. You always know that there are people you can go to, if you need help. I know that bunch of the girls [in the swimming club] help us with homework and staying organized academically and what not. The second part is getting to know all the student-athletes. It’s really cool how we are all like a little community. I would mainly say that you have an instant group of friends and family that you can rely on. That was the most beneficial thing.”
What is your favorite thing about NSU?
“That’s hard; I like a lot. Obviously, the weather and the campus is beautiful. I feel like it’s a good size [college campus] and I really like the class sizes because, at those big [Division 1] schools, you’re just another number. Here you get to actually know your professor, who could potentially write you a letter of recommendation for a job or grad school or something. That’s definitely the main reason why I love it down here.”
Do you have any hobbies outside of swimming?
“I do graphic design and photography. I may or may not be designing our conference shirt; I am still working on it. I did four years of photography in high school and I did AP photography and graphic design my senior year and I just love it, it’s so much fun… I love doing sports and action shots.