A splash in the right direction: junior Will Bonnett makes history

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Mallory Stirrat

At the state competition Saturday Nov. 14, junior Will Bonnett celebrates as he looks at his times and realizes he beat another record. Bonnett came out on top, earning first in his two individual races and beating five individual school records. “I think it is super exciting to be able to be a part of our school history,” Bonnett said. “It’s definitely very rewarding to be able to see the work that I’ve put in and show it by being able to break those records.”

Pushing off the wall, junior Will Bonnett slices through the water on his last lap of his 500 individual medley (IM). Anticipation surges through him as he hears his teammates cheer for him through rushing water. Moments later, he peeks up at the time board. Bonnett knew he beat the record again.

Bonnett made history, breaking the 200 IM and the 500 freestyle as individual records. He also swam the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay with his teammates at the state competition.

“I think that when we break our relay records, that’s even more fun for me,” Bonnett said. “It shows how our team has progressed over the years, and how we’ve gotten better.”

[Bonnett is] like a plane turbine engine. He has an ‘I’m not going to settle for anything at practice’ attitude. He is always going hard and trying to improve, and it shows by him beating records.”

— Daniel Budiman

Bonnett began swimming when he was four years old and has been swimming for 13 years and competitively for 12. Bonnett’s siblings were swimmers and he continued the family tradition. 

“One of my biggest inspirations to swim, after my siblings, was this Olympian named Scott [Usher],” Bonnett said. “He would always make us laugh and he made me want to swim because he made it fun.”

Success and improvement have been Bonnett’s key motivators throughout his swimming career. Bonnett was determined to ensure the COVID-19 pandemic wouldn’t change this. 

“It was pretty frustrating because there wasn’t a really good way to train for swimming. I would have gone to the gym but it was closed too,” Bonnett said. “I was kind of left with whatever I could find, like weights, or basically running exercises. One of my friends has grandparents who have a gym in their basement, so I ended up going to work out there probably every day for a couple months.

Going into the season, Bonnett and his team didn’t expect to go to any big meets, like the State Championship. However, as the season progressed, Bonnett and his teammates got the opportunity to compete at a higher level.

“I think a lot of the team was really surprised when we found out that we were going to be able to go to state,” Bonnett said. “We were really happy that all of our hard work was finally going to pay off.”

Boy’s swimming coach Coleen Sumner expected Bonnett to break the records, but was surprised by how much he beat it.

After earning third place in the 400 freestyle relay, seniors Carter Murawski and McKay Morgan hold their trophy with juniors Will Bonnett and Raymond Yoon. (Mallory Stirrat)

“He has a very strong work ethic. He found ways to swim this summer when It was really tough with COVID but he kept himself in the water,” Sumner said. “It was amazing [when he broke the records], and when I say that, it really was.”

Bonnett’s teammates admire his perseverance, especially during the COVID-19 season.

“[Bonnett is] like a plane turbine engine,” freshman Daniel Budiman said. “He has an ‘I’m not going to settle for anything at practice’ attitude. He is always going hard and trying to improve, and it shows by him beating records.”

Bonnett, despite breaking the records, is setting goals to improve further. He is focusing on flip turns, along with practicing having a smoother stroke.

“There are different things that each swimmer needs to work on,” Bonnett said. “It’s just trying different things, seeing what works, what doesn’t and preparing yourself the best you can.”