The Pryor Times


March 6, 2014

Pryor's Johnson building many winning programs

PRYOR, OK — The swim programs for Pryor and Adair were definitely in a rebuilding stage this year after losing several seniors, but Coach Traci Johnson laid a good foundation.

In her second year as coach, she had a combined six swimmers from the two teams make it to state competition. Last year there were five, all seniors.

Johnson is a Pryor High School graduate and a Desert Storm veteran. She worked as a paramedic before following her passion of working out.

“I worked10 years as a paramedic, where I dealt with unhealthy patients,” Johnson said. “Here it’s all about health.”

Johnson competed and finished in the 2009 Ironman Kona Triathalon which included a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.3-mile run.

She joined the staff at the Rec Center in Pryor four years ago, eventually becoming the Aquatics Director. She takes care of the pool and coaches the Rec Center swim team. She also teaches swimming, lifeguard, first aid and CPR classes.

When she’s not working, she’s at the Rec Center anyway coaching the Pryor and Adair swim teams.

“We have a really young team,” Johnson said, adding that she is excited to grow with this team.

At the 5A Regional competion at Jenks in February, she took 11 swimmers to compete, and six — Adair’s Ethan Markle and Abbey Peters and Pryor’s  Orion Montgomery, Walker Willis, Zack Hotella and Hunter Smith — qualified for the state meet.

“Ethan Markle of Adair is an elite swimmer,” Johnson said. “As a sophomore, he is very fast, consistently finishing in the top 10 in the state.”

Johnson said sports provides a focus necessary for life.

“Stress is everywhere, yet little time is devoted to teaching how to handle pressure. Swimming helps student athletes do just that,” she said. “In addition to healthy living and personal fitness, athletics can help students develop the mental focus needed to success in a stress-filled world.”

Rec Center Director Dick Holmes said he is very happy for the Adair and Pryor teams.

“I think Traci’s a wonderful coach and I’m very proud she’s had some success,” Holmes said.

Johnson said it just takes a spark of encouragement to light a fire under student athletes to inspire them.

“I encourage the swimmer to visualize the successful accomplishment of the goal,” she said. “It’s rewarding to see these student athletes recognize their own success.”

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