On the new season of Selling Sunset, realtor Emma Hernan claimed that she was an Olympic-qualified swimmer. After a detailed investigative report, we found no evidence to support her claim. Thus, people were rightfully a little suspicious when Jonathan Young, a contestant on the forty-second season of Survivor, mentioned during a confessional that he had swum in college.
Unlike Hernan’s case, we actually can find evidence that Young was a swimmer; he’s on the University of Alabama’s 2013-2014 roster. The Gulf Shores, Alabama native is listed as a freestyler.
As far as we can tell, he swam for the Tide only once, at a dual meet against Florida State. There, he swam 21.33 for sixth in the 50 free, and 48.17 in the 100 free for 14th. He also anchored two ‘C’ relays, splitting 21.04 on the 200 medley relay and 48.33 on the 400 free relay.
He doesn’t appear on the team’s roster for any other year.
Before college, he swam for Orange Beach Swim Team. His best times come from his time with the club. In his primary events, the 50 and 100-yard free, his best times are 20.85 and 46.40, respectively.
Throughout this season of Survivor, it was clear that he is strong in the water as he led his tribe through in-water challenge courses. His skill was most on display during the third episode’s immunity challenge, where he pulled his tribe through the water section which the other two tribes couldn’t complete due to the turbulent waters.
He won two individual immunity challenges. Because of this, other people saw him as a shield, even though castaway Lindsay Dolashewich also won two immunity challenges. Young’s alliance from his original tribe remained strong until the final days of the game, despite Young making comments about his female allies that some audience members viewed as misogynistic.
Young made it all the way to the final four, accruing only seven votes against him in the process. At final four, he was selected to make fire for a seat in the final three. He lost to Mike Turner and became the final member of the jury. The next night he cast his vote for Turner, the only jurist to not vote for winner Maryanne Oketch.
Survivor attracts many former professional athletes. Ex-NBA, MLB, and NFL players have all tried to be the Sole Survivor, though their strength and assumed wealth makes them targets. Young is not the only swimmer to be on the show, Olympian Elizabeth Beisel competed on Survivor: Island of the Idols, the controversial thirty-ninth season of the show.
Interestingly, though Young placed much higher than Beisel, who finished twelfth, due to Survivor changing their format from 40 days to 26 in the wake of the pandemic, Beisel survived on the island for longer than Young. She lasted 30 days, while Young was there for 25.