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Baldwin School’s Anna Johnson is Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week (May 22-28)

A senior rower, Johnson has captured first place in the Varsity Single event at every Manny Flick/Horvat Regatta and finished first at the recent PSRA City Championships. Johnson is also the Senior Head of Take a Breather Club at Baldwin School, as well as a member of the Upper School Lamplighter and Model Congress. This fall, Johnson will row for the University of Pennsylvania.


Q: What (in your opinion) has been your best race this spring (to date) and what was the key to your success that day?


A: My best race to date this spring was the 4th Manny Flick. The earlier Flicks were challenging not only because of the weather but also because I had not been on the water long enough to be confident with my racing. By April 16, the day of the 4th Flick, I had been practicing for long enough in my single to where I felt confident with my abilities. Thankfully, the weather gods were also playing in our favor that day. With favorable racing conditions, strong competitors, and confidence in my race plan, I was able to execute one of my best races.


Q: What is your most vivid memory of the PSRA City Championships and your race?


A: The weather during the finals of Cities this year was not the best. I remember sitting at the start with the stake boats holding my boat, and I could feel my boat moving up and down through the waves. My start was not as strong as it typically was, and I was dead even with lane 4 for the first half of the race. I’ve had my eyes set on the V1X trophy since last year’s City Champs, and I knew that if I wanted to win I had to make a move. Just after I passed the 750-meter mark, I took a “power 5” to get a small lead on lane 4, and then worked on creating more distance between us with every stroke after. I remember crossing the finish line and seeing my friends and family cheering from the grandstands. It was a euphoric moment when I was handed the trophy; it was beyond rewarding to see all of my hard work pay off.


Q: What has been your most memorable experience at the Stotesbury Cup?


A: My most memorable experience at Stotesbury was last year. Minutes before the Senior Girls Single was supposed to start time trials, there was lightning. We were all told to dock for a 30-minute delay. It started storming before most of us could get to the dock, and it was a mad dash for all of us to get our boats out of the water for us to move out of the storm. I didn’t have my phone or my shoes, so I ended up playing card games with a few other competitors to pass the time. The storm passed after a few hours and the Haverford coach helped me get my boat back out to launch. While it was quite scary being on the water when we were being stormed on, it was really fun to spend time with some competitors that I would have never gotten to meet if there was never a storm.


Q: Can you walk us through a typical training session – both in-season and out-of-season?


A: When in-season, I practice down at the river almost every day. I focus on getting more water time than erging or lifting. I typically get in around 11,000-15,000 meters every practice with some drills, race prep, and steady-state. When out-of-season, I spend most of my time on the erg, still focusing on maintaining good technique even when on machines. I do similar work on the erg as I do on the water, including long steady-state and short, fast sprints. I also focus on getting stronger through heavy lifting multiple times a week. I enjoy focusing on heavy lifts during the off-season, it’s fascinating to see how much strength I gain each year. Overall, in-season highlights more cardio on the water, while off-season combines more strength work into it to build up for the upcoming water season.


Q: Do you think the Varsity Single is the boat that best fits your skills, and if so, why?


A: The Varsity Single challenges me in a way no other boat can. It pushes me to my limits both physically and mentally. Being in a small, tippy boat, I can feel the changes I make in my stroke immediately. I’m required to stay focused and push myself to make the boat move faster. Mentally, I’ve gotten a lot stronger from being in this boat. It’s hard to rely only on yourself, but the single forces me to push past any mental blocks if I want to keep improving.


Q: Who have been your biggest crew mentors, and what was the important thing each of them taught you?


A: My brother is one of my biggest crew mentors. He has taught me to always believe in myself and to trust the work I’ve put in. My school and club coaches are also big mentors of mine. They teach me how to be a better rower and person as a whole.


Q: What has been the most memorable moment of your Baldwin crew career?


A: One of the most memorable moments with Baldwin Crew was this past winter season. Eight of us went down to Virginia to compete in the Virginia Erg Sprints. Every one of us came out of that race with new personal records, and it was great to see how happy everyone was, knowing that all the time spent on the erg was worth it. It was so much fun to bond with the team and get into the competitive spirit together.


Q: What is your favorite course at Baldwin? What do you plan to major in at the University of Pennsylvania?


A: My favorite courses at Baldwin were statistics and millennial literature. I am attending the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania next year, and will be in the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program, where I will be taking interdisciplinary courses to hopefully gain a general direction in what I hope to pursue.



Fun facts – Anna Johnson

Favorite book: Firekeeper’s Daughter.

Favorite author: J.K. Rowling.

Favorite TV show: Stranger Things.

Favorite movie: Knives Out.

Favorite athlete: Olli Zeidler and Kendall Chase.

Favorite pre-race pump-up song: Family Ties (with Kendrick Lamar).

Favorite team: Philadelphia Eagles.

Favorite pre-race meal: Toast/bagel with peanut butter, banana.

Family members: parents Lyle and Stefanie, older brother Wyatt, and dog Rae.


(To be selected as Main Line Girls Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by her coach.)



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