Albion College swimmer Andrew Jonna is making a splash in the pool and the classroom
By Steve Stein
Andrew Jonna decided to attend Albion College because of its business program and small class sizes.
Joining the men's swimming team was a distant second place.
After a year at the private liberal arts college that only has about 1,500 full-time students and an average class size of less than 19 students, Jonna has changed his tune about swimming.
"I've made so many good friends on the Albion swim team," he said. "I'm doing a lot more work than I've ever done when it comes to swimming, but I've learned if you can get through it, it pays off."
Work is a word Albion men's swimming coach Nick Stone uses often when talking about Jonna, whose specialty is breaststroke.
Stone, headed into his second season as coach, said Jonna came to the Albion team last year not as a freshman who could make an immediate impact, but one who had the potential to do well.
Jonna swam at Detroit Country Day School for four years, qualifying for the state meet in the 100-yard breaststroke three times.
He also was a member of the Birmingham Athletic Club summer swim team for eight years.
That's not an extensive resume to carry into college swimming.
"Andrew needed to make some changes in his techniques, but we knew if he put in the work, he could have success," Stone said. "He improved greatly, mainly because of his hard work. Andrew's hard work was an inspiration to the entire team."
Jonna finished fifth in the 200-yard breaststroke in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association meet in 2:08.96 after swimming a lifetime-best 2:08.30 in the prelims.
He also tied for first place in the consolation heat of the 100 breaststroke (1:00.30), helping the Britons win their second MIAA championship in three years.
Jonna was also 12th in the 1650 freestyle (17:36.07). That was a huge event for Albion because the Britons took over first place in the meet for good by placing five swimmers in the top 13.
Wait, Jonna swam the 1650 freestyle?
Albion needed another swimmer in the event, Stone said, and Jonna was glad to help out even though the event was new to him.
"Anything for the team," Jonna said.
Stone said Jonna is a great teammate, and not just because he was willing to leave his swimming comfort zone and give the 1650 freestyle a try.
"Andrew is an awesome kid, full of life," Stone said. "He loves to be around people and he's so supportive of his teammates."
Stone said he's looking forward to seeing what Jonna can accomplish in his upcoming sophomore season in the pool.
"Andrew really matured as a swimmer last year," Stone said. "We'd like to see him build off what he learned and keep getting stronger physically."
Academics are also going well for Jonna at Albion.
The 20-year-old from Bloomfield Hills made the Dean's List both semesters last year and he has a 3.67 grade-point average. He's an accounting major in the college's Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management.
"Country Day really prepares you academically for college," Jonna said. "You'd better learn time management at Country Day, or you're not going to survive."
Jonna is doing more than surviving academically at Albion.
"That's because Andrew takes his academics very seriously," Stone said.
Jonna's parents are Matt and Michelle Jonna.
He's the oldest of three children.
His sister Isabella, 18, recently graduated from Bloomfield Hills Academy of the Sacred Heart High School and is headed to the University of Michigan. His brother Michael, 16, will be a junior this fall at Country Day.
All three of the Jonna siblings have swam for the Birmingham Athletic Club team. Because of age limits, Michael is the only one left.
Isabella and Michael have each made a splash outside the pool.
Two years ago, Isabella traveled to the Amazon rainforest over the Easter holiday as part of a school-sponsored trip.
Michael is the creator of the video chat tutoring app, Ruru, for high school students.