Crossfitter Kaitlyn Johnson Qualifies for US Summer Nationals in 50 Freestyle

32 year old crossfitter Kaitlyn Johnson qualified for US Summer Nationals swimming a 25.82 50 freestyle on May 21st.

Johnson told SwimSwam that she “train(s) for crossfit 5 days a week and swim 1 day a week as ‘recovery.'” She decided to swim the 50 LCM freestyle at the Renee McCutchan Invite in Morgantown, West Virginia a few weeks ago.

There she swam a prelims time of 26.07 in a six year old racing suit. A local club swimmer allowed Johnson to borrow a newer kneeskin for finals where Johnson swam a 25.82 to win the event by over a second.

That time puts her at the 43rd fastest time in the country this year. It also was only 0.07 off her best time of 25.75 which she swam at the 2016 Olympic Trials to place 27th.

Johnson described her training more stating that when she swims once a week, it is only about 2500 yards and is around 30 minutes. She mixes in drills, underwaters, and kicking during that span.

When asking Johnson what she thinks of what the swimming community can learn from this, Johnson said “I feel like there’s not a lot of talk about what swimmers do in the weight room or what their dryland strength training is like even though it is definitely an important part of training…It might be interesting to see how a sprinter could do spending equal parts in the pool, focusing on speed and technique, and weight room, focusing on strength, rather than 75% pool/25% weight room. With CrossFit, sometimes there are workouts that are 2 minutes long and other times workouts are 30-40min or even up to an hour long, so you’re still getting that mix of aerobic and anaerobic work.”

Johnson also spoke on the differences she feels when training Crossfit compared to when she was a swimmer as “the last 15M of my 50 feel a lot stronger than it ever did when I trained full time as a swimmer.”

She is still deciding whether or not she will attend Summer Nationals that are set to occur from July 26-30 in Irvine, California. If she does not attend them, she said she will be competing in a smaller, local meet in Ohio or West Virginia. Johnson said she definitely will attend Winter Nationals as she hopes to get her Trials cut there.

The 2024 US Olympic Trials cut stands at a 25.69 for the women’s 50 freestyle. This is just slightly faster than Johnson’s best time.

Johnson competed for Division II Clarion University in college. She graduated from there in 2011 and was a 28x Division II All-American. She then trained with West Virginia University before 2016 Olympic Trials and retired after those Trials. She then took some time off and began Crossfit in 2017.

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Dr Richard Norris
5 months ago

As a Crossfit coach and a swim coach I can wholly endorse what Kaitlyn is saying here. I have used Crossfit methodology to deliver land training to swimmers an, as my son is a swimmer, it is his GPP and, he punches above his weight considering he is smaller than most of his competition (he still has some growing to do).

#AthleteLivesMatter
5 months ago

This is very impressive. Congrats to her. Good luck training and hopefully she gets her OTC.

#AthleteLivesMatter

Ukrainian
5 months ago

Is she drug tested? Don’t get me wrong, but competetive strength athletes (including CF) are often times on PEDs which could absolutely make up the lack of swim training. I hope she’s clean.

Xman
Reply to  Ukrainian
5 months ago

First thought I had on this and she probably was not. PED is high in CrossFit, I don’t think she’s going to take any spots away in semi or finals of OT through.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Ukrainian
5 months ago

I was wondering the same thing. She clearly comes from a strong swimming background and is talented.

#AthleteLivesMatter

NWCoach
Reply to  Ukrainian
5 months ago

Why can’t we celebrate athletes doing things differently instead of going straight to she must be on drugs???

Kjo
Reply to  Ukrainian
5 months ago

It’s the 50 free, not the mile. The fact she can almost exclusively train CrossFit, with working in swimming once a week, should have every exercise physiologist and swim coach scratching their head right now. Especially since us swimmers have all been engrained to put most of our workload into the pool. Let’s celebrate her victories instead of questioning whether she’s “cheating” out of the gates.

Also, if you ever followed her career (which you most likely haven’t) whether it be in college for swimming or her current love for CrossFit, you’d realize she’s one of the most athletic women in this country.

Go get that Trials cut, Kaitlyn!

Xman
Reply to  Kjo
5 months ago

This is an odd one, CrossFit does have PED use and it’s part of it, same most of strength and power sports.

If she is using PED for CrossFit and doing the swim meet as a side thing I’m personally fine with it. It’s the same feelings I had with Lance Armstrong doing masters meets, it was cool to see him there.

I also want to clarify I don’t agree that PEDs made up for the lack of swim training. It’s the heavy workouts she is doing in CrossFit that help. People forget that PEDs will help you recover faster but it takes a lot of pain to build that kind of strength.

Last edited 5 months ago by Xman
Meathead
5 months ago

That’s pretty impressive. Would love to see 2-3 swims a week to get a good base for nationals. Think vast majority of college and pro swimmers (who swim 100 and less) swim too much and need more gym time.

Joe
5 months ago

What was her best 50 LCM time back when she swam full time?

NWCoach
Reply to  Joe
5 months ago

25.75

TeamDressel
5 months ago

Wow that’s amazing!

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Government & Law and Economics at Lafayette College. There she is …

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