Green(e) no more: Senior Jonah Greene has established himself as a leader on the West Forsyth swim team
Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2022
By Jay Spivey
For the Clemmons Courier
Jonah Greene is as quiet as a small ripple in a pool, but don’t let that fool you.
Greene, a senior at West Forsyth, is more like a tidal wave when he’s swimming in a meet.
Case in point, last Monday, West Forsyth competed in the Bob Sawyer Invitational at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Greene won the 100-yard freestyle 47.66, and he finished second in the 100-yard backstroke at 53.70, helping the Titans to a sixth-place finish out of 23 teams.
“I was pretty worried going into it because the people around me were suited,” Greene said. “But after, I was super-happy with it.”
The 100 free was before the 100 back in the rotation.
“I had the best seed time, so I was hoping that I could (win), but I was still pretty worried,” Greene said.
He came close to capturing two wins last week, something his coach at West Forsyth, Sandy Thomerson, wasn’t shocked by.
“He swam really well,” she said. “In the 100-free, he won by a half-second, getting 47.66. At states (last season) he swam 47.38, so not far off. In the back, he had said about the walls on the turns and his foot slipping. He went 53.70, which isn’t too bad, knowing he went 52.3 in the prelims at states last year. He had good turns and deep underwater.”
Despite racing in the Sawyer the last four seasons, results could change on a dime.
“I don’t really know what to expect from that meet every year because there’s a lot of teams that go to it,” Greene said. “I was expecting to race people that are in our conference, and that was going to be fun, but I didn’t really know what to expect from anybody else there.”
Thomerson has supreme confidence in Greene. They met when Greene first started swimming for TYDE, his club team.
“Jonah was about 6, and he didn’t seem happy to be at the meets,” she said. “But he always worked hard in practice and tried his best every time.”
As he progressed as a swimmer, something clicked in him in the nearly 10 years when he first met Thomerson to his freshman year at West Forsyth.
“I have a lot more confidence as a swimmer now than I did freshman year,” Greene said. “It’s a lot easier for me to get up and race.
“I’ve learned a whole lot more about swimming and all my strokes and starts and have gotten a lot more consistent.
“It just feels better to race now.”
In learning, he’s become a better swimmer.
“My times have improved,” Greene said. “All my strokes, the technique has changed over the years, and I think what it is now works best for me.”
Much of his change has just come with getting older.
“Jonah always had good stroke technique,” Thomerson said. “The only change I have seen through high school is how much grown — height and strength.”
Freestyle and backstroke are his best strokes, but he’s been tinkering with some others.
“Jonah is a strong in the free and back, and even his (butter)fly is really good,” Thomerson said. “He can sprint free or distance. He made states in the 100 free and 100 back last year. Breaststroke would be his weakest, but it’s still good.”
Greene echoed what Thomerson said.
“Freestyle has been one of my main strokes, but the backstroke was not my main event for a little bit,” Greene said. “I used to be a mid-distance freestyler, so it’s definitely changed. Seeing the time drops in the 100 free and the 100 back — those became my better events compared to everybody else. So, that’s what I started training for.”
As the season progresses, Greene expects to swim in the 200 medley relay. However, he said he likely won’t swim the freestyle or the backstroke if he were to swim in the relay, especially against tougher teams in the Central Piedmont 4-A like Reagan.
“My butterfly is pretty good, but it’s not one of my main events,” Greene said. “I just don’t have the endurance for the 100 fly, but my 50 fly is pretty good.”
Both Greene and Thomerson admit that possibility of his swimming the butterfly in the 200 medley relay is a possibility.
“We are trying different things,” she said. “He did back in the relay last year that placed third. He may do back or fly for the regionals and states depending on splits. I expect only good things for his senior year. He has lots of options for conference and regionals, so It’s just figuring what he has the best chance at states for.”
Not only Greene one of the top swimmers at West Forsyth, he’s also a senior captain.
“Jonah being a senior captain is a big role model especially since we have a lot of freshmen guys,” Thomerson said. “Jonah is quiet and not arrogant at all, and he’s good at rallying the troops for cheering and the kids see how fast he is, but knowing he doesn’t boast about it.”
As a year-round swimmer with TYDE, Greene, who is 18, doesn’t get a chance to practice with his teammates at West Forsyth.
“The focus has definitely changed,” he said. “I think I’m much more motivated at practice to put in the work, but I know it’s not instant.”
When Greene’s high school season is over in February, it might also end his career as a swimmer.
“I want to probably do club swimming in college,” he said. “I just wouldn’t want the commitment of full-time swimming for college.”
Greene wants to go to N.C. State, but he also applied at Appalachian State, UNC Wilmington and UNC Charlotte.
“Bittersweet,” Greene said about his career coming to an end. “I like competing and I like racing everybody, but just having the motivation of having to go to practice every day is pretty tough.”