BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW
For Marshall Bonner, there's nothing finer than the feel of water rushing by him as he powers himself towards the finish line. This sheer determination has quickly established Bonner as a swimmer to watch in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) competitions.
It didn't take long for the 19-year-old rookie on the Laurentian Men's swimming team to make a big splash.
During a swim meet at Brock University on Oct. 18, Bonner exploded for two first-place finishes in the 50-metre backstroke (BK) and the 50-metre breaststroke (BR). He also launched himself into a second place finish in the 50-metre fly.
His time of 27.33 seconds in the 50-metre BK qualified him for the Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) Championships in March. He would soon better that time.
Last weekend, Bonner was at it again as he turned in three first place finishes in the 100-metre BK, 50-metre BR and 50-metre BK against Waterloo. In the 50-metre BK, Bonner re-qualified for CIS with a time of 27.17 seconds. The faster time means Bonner will get a higher ranking in the seeding at CIS.
The 50-metre BK is Bonner's bread and butter.
"It's by far my best event."
Bonner knows what it takes to excel in the highly competitive 50-metre races.
"You have to have a strong kick, good rhythm and a good start, turn and finish," said Bonner. "In 50-metre races you can't make a mistake or else you lose. Your run must be flawless."
All the early success has left Bonner feeling strong and confident.
"It feels good," said Bonner. "The good start has given me confidence and it's good to help the team out."
The explosive start has added positive pressure to Bonner to continue his fine form.
"I think I can keep it up," said Bonner. "The added pressure will make me go faster."
Bonner has already set his sights on the OUA Championships in Ottawa on Feb. 13, 2004.
"I would like to win the 50-metre BK at OUA," said Bonner. "I am going to have to go faster than my best time to do it. I will have to train hard and be psychological ready."
Head coach Phil Parker likes Bonner's Bonner's commitment to the sport and the team.
"He gives 100 per cent at everything he does both in and out of the water," said Parker. "With a dedicated bunch of swimmers right behind him, Marshall is leading by example and he has the confidence in himself and his team to be a champion."
Bonner grew up in the small Southern Ontario town of Lotus. He developed his love for the pool and drive to succeed in competitive swimming at the Clarington Swim Club in Bowmanville, located 25 minutes away from Lotus.
It wasn't difficult for Bonner to identify with swimming at a young age. His mother was a swim coach and Bonner would travel with her to the pool and took a keen liking to the sport at the age of seven.
Over the years, Bonner gained a reputation as an excellent swimmer and as a person willing to do whatever it took to be successful.
After graduating from high school, Bonner came to Laurentian University to continue his swimming career.
It wasn't a hard choice to make at all. His girlfriend, Elisha James is on the Lady Vees swim team and is their captain.
"I came to Laurentian because my girlfriend swims here," said Bonner. "Laurentian also has a really nice pool and the coach is great."
Bonner is enrolled in the Arts program, majoring in economics.