The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

Humans of WEGO: From the suburbs to D1

Back-to-back state champ Brady Johnson has worked hard to become a top athlete, and was recently recognized for his achievements.
Photo by Emily Ziajor
Brady Johnson is a state champion several times over, and now, the senior can claim that he is the only student to have official school days declared in his namesake.

A man most commonly known for his accomplishments in swimming at West Chicago Community High School, and now committed to a D1 college, Arizona State, senior Brady Johnson can now add another impressive achievement to his record.

Johnson now has two school days named for him. At the recent school board meeting on April 16, West Chicago Community High School officially declared Feb. 23 and 24 “Brady Christopher Johnson Days.”

It is no wonder, as Johnson won two state championships this year, and one his junior year. He also achieved a number one state ranking both junior and senior years, qualified for the state competition all four years, earned all-conference honors for four years, and secured all-American recognition throughout his high school career.

Currently committed to Arizona State’s Sun Devils, Johnson will be swimming at the D1 level as he has long-envisioned. 

“Well, my goal in life was to go D1 in the sport that I love, and I was able to achieve that. And now that I’ve done that, my next goal is to go to the Olympics,” Johnson said.

An action shot of Brady Johnson mid-breaststroke during a race in the 2023-24 season. (Photo courtesy of Brady Johnson)

Of course, becoming a state champion and D1 athlete took considerable work, and years of vigilence.

“Being consistent and consistently practicing, maintaining that mentality that I want to reach my end goal. Just like, even when I don’t want to swim, on my worst days, I still get up,” Johnson said.

Discipline is also a word Johnson uses when describing his routine and drive. 

“Definitely set a goal because I mean, when you’re feeling at your worst, or you have no one else to drive, you want to think about what’s keeping you going really, you want to think about what you want to achieve at the end. Because if you’re doing something for nothing, then what’s the point, you know?” Johnson said.

Throughout his years as a swimmer for West Chicago Community High School, Johnson forged many close friendships. Fellow teammates Ryan Fors, Sam Ortiz, and Tommy Eng are some of his close friends who also share the passion for swimming.

Photo of Johnson and some of his close teammates. (Photo Courtesy of Brady Johnson)

“I’ve been swimming with [Ryan] since I was seven, and we’ve been competing for a decade now. We’ve grown up together. Sam Ortiz and Tommy Eng I met sophomore year, and have become super cool in and out of the pool. We do everything together,” Johnson said.

Fors admires Johnson’s passion for the sport.

“He’s a great guy. I’ve been friends with him for as long as I can remember. He’s always locked in when it comes to swimming. Once he gets his mind on something it’ll happen,” Fors said.

In addition to numerous connections made through swimming, Johnson has also developed close friendships completely unrelated to the sport. 

“Me and Brady first started hanging out during late quarantine. We always knew each other in middle school but never talked. One day we were both bored and decided to meet by the library and bike to get some food. For a couple of weeks, we did the same thing almost every day. We would always play the same games when we got home, and we both started to get really close with one another,” senior Jonathan Soto said.

Unlike most of Brady’s other friendships, the one with Soto did not start from swimming, but was entirely random, almost like fate. Soto and Johnson decided to hang out one day randomly and from then on just clicked, as if they have been best friends their whole lives.

“We both shared the exact same sense of humor and knew how to make each other laugh no matter the moment. Brady became one of my really close friends, and to this day, we’ve grown a great bond,” Soto said.

Their personalities complement each other. One makes the other laugh without even trying, and their chemistry is, as they say, “surprising.” Although Soto does not swim like Johnson does, and Johnson does not play volleyball as Soto does, they are still able to find common ground. 

Someone else that had been heavily influenced by Brady Johnson is his coach, Troy Murray. Coach Murray believes that Johnson can go to the Olympics if Johnson really puts his mind to it – just as he did in high school swimming.

Johnson and his team after this year’s Upstate Eight Conference win. (Photo courtesy of Brady Johnson)

“He will be swimming for Arizona State next year. The coach that will train him is named Bob Bowman, who also coached Michael Phelps and is currently coaching several of the best swimmers on the planet including a French swimmer named Leon Marchand, who should win a couple gold medals in the upcoming summer Olympics in Paris,” Murray said.

Murray had heard of Johnson well before he started swimming for WEGO, but had no idea Johnson would achieve the success he has thus far.

“When I first took over as head coach of the swim team at West Chicago, Brady was in eighth grade. I was not all that familiar with him, but I still remember his club coach on the Sharks telling me about Brady. I remember seniors on the high school team telling me about Brady. And I think he lived up to what these people told me to expect of Brady. I do not think it would be a stretch to say that he is the greatest all-around swimmer to ever compete for West Chicago High School. Of the swimming records – varsity, freshmen, and pool – on the record board, he currently owns or is part of over 60 percent of them,” Murray said.

All in, Johnson had 44 wins during his four-year swimming career at the high school. This past winter, he competed in the 100-free for the first time at the state-level. With a time of 43.29, Johnson was a shoe-in for first place. He then took first in the 100-backstroke, shaving a full second off his previous state-winning time. Johnson’s relay team also placed sixth on Feb. 24.

Following his return from the competition, WCCHS hosted a Parade of Champions, honoring Johnson for his achievements. Since then, Johnson has been recognized by the Board of Education as well.

Senior Brady Johnson poses with his signed paper from the Board of Education, which declares Feb. 23 and 24 official “Brady Christopher Johnson Days.” (Photo by Dhanveer Gill)



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About the Contributors
Dhanveer Gill
Dhanveer Gill, Managing Editor
Dhanveer Gill is a senior at WCCHS and this is his second year on the Wildcat Chronicle. Dhanveer is a dedicated Math Team member, NHS member, and senior engineer of WeGo's Robotics Team. Outside of school, he loves to be in the gym, go on long (and he means very long) bicycle rides, listen to music, and write. In the future, Dhanveer wants to pursue computer engineering and minor in journalism.
Emily Ziajor
Emily Ziajor, Multimedia Manager
Emily Ziajor is a WEGO senior in her second year of journalism. She attended the National High School Journalism Convention last November, and thoroughly loved the experience. She is a Polish-American (she finished her final year of Polish School in the spring of 2023) with a creative soul and high aspirations. When it comes to writing, she has a sharp imagination, and one of her true passions is photography. Emily is a multi-year member of the AV Club at West Chicago Community High School.
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  • Doug SchmidtJun 18, 2024 at 4:50 pm

    Good luck Brady in the trials and your career at Arizona State. Stay focused and disciplined. Your a true Wildcat.