The Westminster girls’ swimming and diving team earned Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Class A-AAA team state championship at Georgia Tech’s McAuley Aquatic Center in Atlanta Feb. 9. It was the program’s 23rd team title and leading the effort was freshman Gigi Johnson who won four gold medals: two in relays and two individual crowns.
“Gigi’s performance was nothing short of amazing,” Wildcats head coach Sharon Loughran said. “She competed like someone well beyond her years, carries herself with class and is very humble. Gigi is grounded and a great teammate. She is willing to do anything to ensure team success and has a bright future at every level as an athlete.”
Johnson has attended Westminster since kindergarten, but this was her first season as a varsity swimmer.
“It was a really amazing experience to see everyone come together as a team,” she said. “Winning the state championship showed how our teamwork and hard work paid off.”
Johnson knew the expectations would be high for the program coming into this season.
“I have a lot of friends who are upperclassmen and swimming on the middle school team with the same coaches that are on the varsity staff helped me,” she said.
Johnson was a part of two relay teams that won state titles and earned All-America honors. The 200-freestyle relay team of Johnson, Samantha Bertschi, Annie Jardina and Eliza Normark won with a time of 1:34.89, and the 400 free unit took home first in 3:26.85.
“I didn’t really know the other swimmers in the group in the beginning of the year because they’re seniors but it was a really good opportunity to meet new people and support each other,” Johnson said. “It was a great time to show our support of Westminster and swim for our school and not just for ourselves.”
Johnson took home first in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:59.87, nearly six seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in Wesleyan’s Hannah Wasmuth to earn All-America honors.
“I knew that there would be strong swimmers in the race that started fast,” Johnson said. “I had to do my best for the team and stay focused. I stuck to my game plan and could hear everyone cheering for me, so that helped me go.”
Rounding out the individual honors for her was a first-place finish in the 100 breaststroke at 1:03.09 for All-America consideration.
“There were some fast swimmers in that race as well. It was a fun way to end the state meet because we had already won the team title before the race so I wanted to come out and score more points for my team.”
Johnson began swimming through summer leagues as a youth and currently competes with the Swim Atlanta club team.
“I loved being in the water on hot days and being with all of my friends in one spot,” she said. “After that, I decided to swim year around and joined the Westminster team.”
The daughter of Krista and Don Johnson enjoys playing tennis with her family. Academically, she has a 4.0 grade point average and lists English, visual art and physics as favorite subjects.
Johnson works with an organization at Westminster that bakes food for local food banks and with her local church to provide goods to Malawi. Johnson, a Type 1 diabetic, also works with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Her favorite athletes include swimmers Katie Ledecky, Missy Franklin and Amanda Weir.
While the Westminster swim season has concluded, Johnson will be back in the pool representing Swim Atlanta at numerous events through the spring and into the summer.