Mercer Island's new girls swimming coach walks in big shoes

Mercer Island girls swimming captains, Kelly Conway, left, Natalia Homchick, Jennifer Pak and Stephanie Hammond. - Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter
Mercer Island girls swimming captains, Kelly Conway, left, Natalia Homchick, Jennifer Pak and Stephanie Hammond.
— image credit: Megan Managan/Mercer Island Reporter

To say that Jeff Lowell had an influence on Mercer Island High School swimming would be an understatement. Picking up where the former Islander swim coach left off is something new, which MI girls’ swimming head coach Chauntelle Johnson knows comes with a little pressure.

“I have the biggest shoes in the world to fill. I think that Jeff Lowell and Mercer Island swimming, just that phrase, has been kind of synonymous. I feel like I’m kind of the new kid on the block, even though I’ve been around for a couple of seasons for the boys and girls,” said Johnson. “My thing is that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and it’s not broken, so there’s no reason to change what’s been done.”

The girls team, which is returning from a third-in-state finish last fall, has 68 swimming and jumping into the pool for the Islanders, full of the desire and willingness to work hard, Johnson said.

“They already have the desire, which is good because that’s not something you can teach someone,” said Johnson. “For me, my goal when I coach is to help the girls set goals and then help equip them to reach those goals.”

Overall, the Islanders are focusing on “the little things,” Johnson said, such as starts, turns and finishes — things which will help give the team an edge in competition.

Johnson, who spent the last two seasons as an assistant under Lowell, expects the meets against Juanita and Newport to be some of the season’s best competition.

“Juanita — I think they are going to be a good team for us to swim against. They’ve got a good number of girls who are fast, so it’s always fun to swim against them. I’m excited because there are so many girls who are going to get a chance to swim, so making sure the girls really get to have a great experience is kind of the thing I’m most looking forward to,” said Johnson.

The team will begin its season with a home meet against Newport at the Mercer Island Beach Club tomorrow at 3:45 p.m.


9/10 vs. Newport

9/12 at Bothell

9/15 vs. Juanita

9/18 at Ballard

9/29 vs. Woodinville

10/1 at Lake Washington

10/13 vs. Bellevue

10/16 at Bothell

10/20 at Bainbridge

10/29 KingCo Swim and Dive Championships

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