Susie Johnson takes over as Danbury’s girls swim coach

Susie Johnson of Brookfield has been hired as Danbury's high school girls swim coach starting with the 2022 season.

Susie Johnson of Brookfield has been hired as Danbury's high school girls swim coach starting with the 2022 season.

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Susie Johnson followed her high school career at Weston High School with four years of swimming at Lehigh University, experiences she says helped her navigate challenges later in life.

It’s those kinds of experiences that Johnson, who was recently named the coach of the Danbury girls swim team, wants to give her Hatters.

“It’s a program that deserves attention,” Johnson said. “I love swimming and I loved my high school swimming experience, so I want to be able to do my best to create that kind of experience at Danbury High School.”

Danbury athletic director Chip Salvestrini said he knew right away Johnson would be a match for the Hatters’ program.

“She walked in and I said ‘this is our swim coach’,” Salvestrini said. “She’s an unbelievable hire for us. She has experience as a coach and the background as a competitive swimmer, which is exciting for us.”

Johnson, who is replacing Lindsay Glazer, has been a swim coach with various club teams over the years, including with the Cheshire Y Seadogs, and the Makos at the Brookfield. She’s also been coaching at Whisconier Middle School in Brookfield.

She’s a single mom with five kids, all of whom are swimmers, so Johnson is a veteran of the swimming landscape on many levels.

“One of the challenges of being a single mom to five kids who are in sports, is needing flexibility,” Johnson said. “This is perfect. It’s a shorter season, it’s only a couple of months, and it doesn’t interfere with my kids’ seasons.

“I’ve coached forever but usually with club programs and younger kids. I would love to help develop the (Danbury) program and build it up into a competitive program that can compete with other teams (in the FCIAC).”

Johnson was hired just a few weeks ago, and is still getting to know the athletes on her team.

“I haven’t had a lot of time with the kids yet, but I think they’re excited to have somebody who cares,” Johnson said. “I want to help the kids become better and faster swimmers, but I really just want to help them develop overall as human beings.”

The preseason began last week and the first meet is Sept. 14 against the Westhill/Stamford co-op at Westhill.

The Hatters are practicing at Western Connecticut State University, where they will also host their three home meets this season.

Lack of pool space has been part of the struggle for the Hatters, who share WestConn’s O’Neill Center Pool with several other schools, so Johnson said they’ve added Green Chimneys in Brewster, NY, as a practice site as well.

“This seems like a perfect fit,” Johnson said. “We’re in a no-pressure situation so we’re just going to focus on improving. I want to help everyone grow as an individual through swimming. It’s how I learned to handle failure and push myself outside of my comfort zone.

“It’s really been the biggest influence in my life that’s helped me survive the challenges that life throws at you once you get out of school.”; @dstewartsports