Entering uncharted waters: Johnson shifts from football to swimming


Nandini Paidesetty

Coppell sophomore Asher Johnson practices his breaststroke during practice on Nov. 19 at the Coppell YMCA. Johnson switched from playing football to swimming after an injury, rising to the varsity A team after just one year.

Drishti Gupta, Staff Writer

Surrounded by the cool water, the familiar scent of chlorine and the sounds of water splashing, Coppell sophomore Asher Johnson felt his anxiety, stress and tension dissipate as he swam down the lane. 

In the beginning of his freshman year, Johnson switched from football to swimming in order to obtain greater opportunities and benefits. 

“One thing that influenced [me] to switch was being injured because I got a concussion and broke my arm,” Johnson said. “[Swimming] has one of the lowest injury rates. Another thing was that there were a ton of people in football. Any big success out of football is a minority of the group that plays. I felt like I could grow more in swimming.”

When Johnson’s friends heard of his injury, they encouraged him to make a change. 

“[Johnson] and I have been friends for a while, and when I heard [about his injury], I reached out to him and suggested trying out for the swim team,” Coppell junior swimmer Scott Moyer said. “He agreed to try out, and since he didn’t have much competitive background in swimming, I didn’t expect much, but he works really hard and has made his way up to varsity A in just one year.”

Johnson also found swimming more appealing than football because he thinks swimming is more beneficial for both physical and mental health. 

“Swimming is good for your health and good for your joints,” Johnson said. “During that time I was struggling [emotionally], and so swimming was a way to take that away. Some people run or jog when they’re upset so swimming was that for me.”

Being 6 feet and 180 pounds, Johnson faced several challenges.

“In swimming, compared to the other people, I’m bigger and bulkier than they are, so there is a big difference and I keep comparing myself to them,” Johnson said. “Sometimes, I’ll go slower over long sets or I won’t get the same interval [time], so seeing that and not getting mad at myself was one struggle.”

Despite these challenges, Johnson found that through special relationships in his life and his own personal effort, he was able to overcome these obstacles.

“My dad [Everett Johnson] has been really helpful,” Asher said. “He’s a chiropractor, so anytime I’m sore, I’ll go to him and somehow it makes me faster. Also, the swim coach, Marieke Mastebroek, is really good at studying someone and figuring out how they need to train.”

As for personal effort, Johnson has the self-motivation to push himself out of his comfort zone. 

“Asher’s greatest motivation to keep swimming is his desire to better himself,” Moyer said. “His desire to stay in good physical shape keeps him trying his hardest.”

Although swimming competitions were new to him, Johnson found they are very rewarding. 

“Getting to go to someone else’s pool and show them what our school is made of or what we have to offer is really a pleasing part of competing,” Johnson said. 

Johnson was also an accomplished athlete during his previous time in football, which he has carried on in his swimming journey. His coaches had noticed his hard-work from the start and this effort transferred to swimming as well, ensuring success for him. 

“Asher was a kid that showed his attitude in the way that he played,” Coppell Middle School East athletic coordinator and football coach Ryan Melson said. “He wasn’t the most vocal athlete, but I remember his very first scrimmage in the seventh grade when he flew around the field making tackles. Even in the offseason, he would be among the top performers in the weight room or during conditioning.”

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