Q&A with Daniel Johnson
Daniel Johnson and the Virginia swimming and diving teams are back in action next Wednesday at Virginia Tech. Johnson, a native of Concord, N.C., recently caught up with VirginiaSports.com to talk about his role as a team captain, the Florida meet, his future career plans and his favorite Halloween costumes.
Question: What did being voted captain mean to do?
Johnson: It was something that was really important to me coming into this year. I had really been watching Lee (Robertson), Ryan (Hurley) and Pat (Reams) lead the team last year. I was ready. But it is a lot of responsibility and it isn’t always fun. It’s a lot more work than it might seem. But it was important to me for three years and this is my way of giving back to the team in my fourth year.
Question: What is the story behind with the conch shell you blow before meets now?
Johnson: I had it at home. I used to play trumpet in high school. I bought it at the beach when I was a kid and I found it at my house this summer. I brought it back with me to school and knew we would find some sort of use for it. I starting using it to wake up my friends when they were sleeping. Then I realized how loud it was. Then we watched the movie “Anchorman” and there is a conch shell scene. We put the two together and thought it would be fun to do at the alumni meet. Everybody liked it so now we are doing it at all the meets.
Question: What were your impressions of the Florida meet?
Johnson: It was a very encouraging meet. We swam times that usually come in dual meets later in the season. There are a lot of people who are in a great place right now but not everybody is there yet. It’s still really early. We worked really hard all week and then still stepped up and swam fast. I was really happy to see that. It was a lot of fun too.
Question: What is your favorite event to swim?
Johnson: My best event is the 200 backstroke but I think that is one of the hardest events. I prefer to swim the 25 butterfly. I’m not good at it but that is my favorite event.
Question: What is the hardest part about being a backstroker?
Johnson: Staying underwater on my turns. When I get tired it’s hard for me to stay under and take my kicks like I should. That is definitely the hardest part of the backstroke to me. I can always drive my tempo and my legs but after I hit the turn I always run out of air.
Question: How did you get started swimming?
Johnson: I have always been really tall so when I was a kid I tried all the other sports. I was horrible at everything but swimming, which I was decent at, so I got steered into year-round swimming. I finally got strong enough to put my body with my height.
Question: What do you love about swimming?
Johnson: I love the team aspect of swimming. Even though we swim individually, I think we are still more of a team than some of the so-called team sports. Sometimes we get all wound up in statistics but with swimming, what’s most important is how your team does. Especially at the NCAA level. I love my team and being around my team. I love coming together to do great things.
Question: Why did you choose to swim at UVa?
Johnson: In high school, I was a good long course swimmer but hadn’t put together short course swimming yet. There were some schools that weren’t very interested. But Virginia was and I really loved the team when I came. What really sold it for me was the combination of athletics and academics because I know I am going to swim for only four years. At Virginia I can have an awesome swimming career but really be set up for my future. You are set up on both fronts.
Question: What are your future career plans?
Johnson: I am applying to law school. I am civil environmental engineer and have done engineering for four years now. I always planned to go to law school but I wanted to set myself apart and do engineering. I know the math and science behind it and when I get the legal knowledge it will put me in a great position for a job as an environmental lawyer. Environmental law is a growing field right now and my goal has always been to have a job where I could work outside.
Question: What do you like to do for fun?
Johnson: I’m swimming or studying most of the time, but I like to go backpacking and camping. I love music and listen to literally every different kind of music you can imagine. I have 26,000 songs on my iPod now. I like playing a little bit of guitar.
Question: What has been your favorite all-time Halloween costume?
Johnson: As a kid I was a Ninja Turtle five years in a row. I was obsessed with the Ninja Turtles as a kid. My dad made me a paper Mache shell. In college, Eric Olesen and I were Hansel and Zoolander from the movie “Zoolander.” At one point were acted the entire walk-off scene, dance for dance. It was a big hit.