Corner Canyon’s swimmer wins Female Swimmer of Year honors, three state titles
Mar 16, 2020 01:25PM
● By Catherine Garrett
Corner Canyon’s Rivers Johnson capped off her high school career with two individual state titles, a relay title and the 6A Female Swimmer of the Year. (Photo courtesy Patrick Thurman)
By Catherine Garrett | [email protected]
Corner Canyon senior Rivers Johnson wasn’t quite having the season she envisioned for her final year of high school swimming.
She said that despite putting in more than 25 hours a week training, her times often looked very similar to those she had when she was in ninth grade. And yet, it all came together at the Richards Building Pool Feb. 14–15 at Brigham Young University where she will spend the next four years competing collegiately. She set three 6A state records, winning two individual titles and a relay championship in leading the Chargers to a third-place finish as a team.
“At the very start of the season, I knew what I wanted, but the year didn’t quite go as planned with my times,” she said. “After a pretty crazy two days at state, I have just sat in shock and been trying to take it in. It just feels so rewarding to have it all come together for me.”
CCHS swimming coach Patrick Thurman said, “Rivers has always been a talented swimmer. She has a natural ability to move through the water. She is also her biggest critic, and helping her to stay positive has been my biggest focus with her. Even after all she did at state, she still wasn't satisfied. That drive will serve her well at BYU next year.”
The senior was named the 6A Female Swimmer of the Year at the state meet.
“I didn’t even know there was an award like that and I was just taking pictures with friends when my name was announced,” Johnson said. “I feel so incredibly honored to receive this award.”
She set new 6A state records in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke while also swimming a leg on the first-place 200 medley relay team, who also set a state record, in the event. Senior Aliza Smith, junior Britta Catmull and senior Eliza Balfe were also part of the championship relay squad.
Johnson, the daughter of Ryan and Heather Johnson of Draper, has been swimming since she was 7, and although she tried plenty of other sports and extracurricular activities, she always found her way back to the pool. “Swimming has always had my heart,” she said. “There is a power that I experience after a race I’m really proud of that is hard for me to explain.”
Progressing in the sport has helped Johnson learn that “motivation can only take you so far and discipline and habits are the key to your success.”
Johnson had several offers to swim collegiately and ultimately selected her parents’ alma mater to pursue her education and stay in the pool for four more years.
At state this year, Corner Canyon had 22 swimmers who qualified for 39 events and six relays — the largest group in school history, according to Thurman. McKay Larsen, who led the boys to an 11th-place finish, broke the school record in the 200 individual medley and placed second.
Others scoring for the Chargers were Smith (second, 100 back; fifth, 200 free), Lily Afualo (eighth, 500 freestyle; eighth, 200 IM), Balfe (eighth, 50 free; 16th, 100 free), Larsen (ninth, 100 breast), Jaxon Barlow (10th, 100 breast), Steele Smith (11th, 200 IM; 11th, 100 free), Rich Engar (12th, 500 free; 13th, 200 free), the 400 free relay team of Ethan Bangerter, Brandon Smith, Frank Long and Engar (13th), Catmull (13th, 100 breaststroke; 14th, 200 IM), Alex Miller (13th, 50 free), Macie Granger (15th, 500 free), Alex Miller (16th, 100 free) and Grace Poulsen (16th, 100 breast).
The 200 free relay squad of Afualo, Kristin Miller, Lauren Crayk and Tyler Lybbert finished third as well as the 400 free relay lineup of Johnson, Balfe, Smith and Afualo, while the 200 medley relay team of Barlow, Larsen, Smith and Miller broke the school record and finished fourth.
“The swimmers did a phenomenal job,” Thurman said. “I was so happy to see so many get the experience of swimming at state. The most rewarding aspect of coaching is seeing your athletes achieve success through their hard work.”