David Johnston is taking an Olympic redshirt year to train with Mark Schubert‘s elite distance crew at The Swim Team (TST), but the University of Texas standout tells SwimSwam he will return to the Longhorns for the 2024-25 season instead of turning pro after Paris 2024.
Johnston, who just wrapped up his junior campaign in Austin, will have two seasons of collegiate eligibility remaining including his optional COVID year. By the time he rejoins Texas, he’ll have a lot more conference competition with the Longhorns moving from the Big 12 to the SEC in 2024.
Last week, we reported that Johnston was joining the six-time Olympic coach’s TST group in El Toro, California, along with Tokyo Olympian Michael Brinegar and NC State’s Will Gallant. Schubert returned in February from a “leave of absence” coaching in China since last year, and now has three of the five fastest Americans in the 1500 free this year.
Johnston is coming off of a breakout performance in the 400-meter freestyle at U.S. Trials, where he triumphed in a personal-best time of 3:45.75 to punch his ticket to Fukuoka, Japan. At last month’s World Championships, he went on to place 17th in prelims with a 3:48.68. Nonetheless, it was an impressive summer from the 21-year-old considering he recently had COVID-19 and is considered more of a distance specialist anyway. Johnston also placed 5th in the 800 free (personal-best 7:51.70) and 4th in the 1500 free (15:03.85) at U.S. Trials.
At the NCAA Championships in March, Johnston earned a runner-up finish in the 500 free while also finishing 4th in the 1650 free and 8th in the 400 IM for a total of 43 individual points. He placed 6th, 5th, and 7th in those events at last year’s NCAAs. Johnston previously trained with Schubert in California during the offseason prior to his leave in China.
Schubert was the USA Swimming National Team head coach from 2006 until 2010. He was also previously the head coach at USC and the University of Texas. He served as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team staff at the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, and 2008 Summer Games.
After graduating from Texas with an undergraduate degree earlier this year, Johnston remains undecided on his area of graduate studies.
“Not sure what I’ll study when I return,” Johnston told SwimSwam. “I have a degree in communication & leadership and a business minor. Interested in something to do with broadcasting, but I’m gonna figure that out within the next year.”
A redshirt (or redshirting) is when you skip a year of college swimming while preserving that year of collegiate eligibility. Athletes can take redshirt seasons to prepare for the Olympics or recover from an injury, among other reasons.