Casey Johnson spent the first half of July representing his country at the World University Games in Russia.
The Indiana University senior has the T-shirts to prove it.
“I bought tons and tons of shirts. I would say at least 15,” laughed the 2009 IHSAA boys state diving champion from Indian Creek High School. “You spend so much money because you know you’ll never be able to buy those again.”
Johnson not only beefed up his wardrobe, he made memories and friendships guaranteed to last a lifetime.
THE JOHNSON FILE
Name: Casey Johnson
Weight: 155 pounds
Family: Parents, Jeff and Brenda; brother, Cody, 26; sister, Carlee, 20
High school: Indian Creek (2009)
College: Indiana University (2013)
Major: Business management
Favorite TV show: “The Voice”
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: “The Heat”
Favorite athlete: David Boudia
A total of 12 athletes — six men, six women — made up the USA diving team, including two others with Hoosier ties, IU’s Conor Murphy and MacKenzie Tweardy of Purdue.
Johnson and Murphy teamed to place sixth in the 10-meter synchronized event, with Johnson taking 12th in the individual 10-meter platform.
After four years of competing primarily against other universities, Johnson relished the opportunity to match talents against athletes from around the globe in the city of Kazan’s brand new swimming and diving facility.
“It was the ultimate trip in my eyes. My first opportunity to dive against athletes from other countries. It was very surreal. Honestly, I wasn’t really intimidated,” said Johnson, who at Indian Creek became only the second Johnson County male to win the state diving title. Greenwood’s Mitch Richeson won in 2000.
“I just went in thinking I had nothing to lose and to have fun,” Johnson said. “It was the best time of my life. Even when I was working, it was fun.”
Kazan is the eighth-largest city in Russia, with a population exceeding 1.1 million. It is located in the country’s western half, approximately 500 miles due east of Moscow.
Officially known as the
XXVII Summer Universiade, the Games were spread over 12 days (July 6 to July 17), attracting more than 10,400 athletes from 162 countries. It is the world’s second-largest sporting event, in terms of participation, after the Olympics.
Johnson’s itinerary called for him to fly out of Indianapolis to Houston on July 1 to meet other members of the USA diving team. From there it was the long flight to Moscow followed by a 2½-hour flight to Kazan.
The only other journey abroad in Johnson’s young life came last summer when he visited Spain. Those, however, were days immersed in vacation, not competition.
Back home, friends and family were forced to adjust their internal alarm clocks if they hoped to catch a glimpse of Johnson competing.
“The events were very limited on ESPNU, so we watched a British website,” said Johnson’s mother, Brenda. “Casey’s first event was at 4 in the morning here, because of the eight-hour time difference. His grandparents came over, and his siblings were here. The next event was at 5 in the morning, so we got to sleep in a little.
“It was just unbelievable. The pinnacle of his career. He’s always loved a party, and this was a great party.”
Johnson late last week drove to Florida State University to take part in a meet that would either qualify him for the 2013 National Diving Championships or essentially conclude the business management major’s collegiate diving career.
Johnson met his goal. This means his next long drive is to the University of Iowa, host of Nationals from Aug. 13 to Aug. 18.
Sounds like a party.