At the start of the 2016-2017 winter season, Hurricane Tiger Ryan Bunn still held 6 high school swimming records, each one set as a freshman. Is he fast? We certainly think so. However, to be sure go head and jump in the water and see if you can catch him. We are confident he will catch you.
Swimming is never an easy sport to adapt to, no sport ever is. But there is something about being in the water that draws you in. Once swimming becomes your sport of choice you crave being in the water; you almost feel out of place when you are not. The old adage, fish out of water, is real. All swimmers understand and quite literally feel it. Whether it’s the smell of the smell of the chlorine, the sound of water splashing, the water running along the side of the body, even the calm underneath the surface, the environment is home to a swimmer, it’s where they would rather be.
Ryan is no different. He swims year-round. Up first thing at 4:15am when the world around him sleeps. He is getting up and ready to heads to practice. He will put in a few hours there then split the rest of his school day between Success Academy at DSU and classes at the high school. “After school I get ready and head straight to my club swim and I am usually there until about 7pm,” says Ryan. “Once I get home I get my homework done, eat dinner, have family time and then get ready for bed to start it all over in the morning.”
Ryan does find some time to unwind. Yet, the competitive spirit is alive and well in the Bunn household and even in those moments where the Bunn seeks a break from it all he finds competition. Ryan and his older brother, senior soccer player Derick [who was also featured in the Sumer 2016 issue of HS Sports Insider] both time find in their schedules to play a little ping pong and challenge one another to intense games to see who can dominate the paddles.
“You just have to listen to your coaches and how they train you so you can do well.”
As most swimmers go, Ryan entered the sport relatively late. Where most are introduced to the water at the age of five Ryan began year-round swim at the age of nine. He is not in poor company having started later than most, Ed Moses, 2000 Olympic silver medalist didn’t begin year-round till his senior year of high school. “When he was eight,” remembers Donna, “we signed up for the recreational swim here in Hurricane and he just loved it so we could quickly see it was something he hand a knack for and he has really excelled at it. It was just the one-year of summer swim and then we contacted coach Dani Caldwell with the Stingrays and he has been swimming year-round with them and has been a consistently strong swimmer ever since.”
Ryan is both a sprinter and distance swimmer. Always trusting his coaches, he has learned to follow their lead. Having taken 2nd place in the 500meter at the state championships as a freshman in high school and taken 1st in several state races for club swim, he credits his coaches for helping him excel. “You just have to listen to your coaches and how they train you so you can do well. I really trust them because they have the experience and know what I need to get better. I mostly swim the freestyle and butterfly which can be a harder stroke to get down but once you get the technique and timing down right and after you’ve trained for a while it gets pretty easy.”
With club swim Ryan will compete with others in his age group whereas in high school swim meets he can and has been on the block against swimmers who are much older. While the competition is diverse in the water the one thing every swimmer knows and strives for every time they hit the water is their personal best.
“Most of my meets, since I’ve been to so many now, I just get in a little mood and am ready for my race. I used to get nervous before each event,” Ryan admits, “but I just remember that it’s just another meet and I go out there and do my best.”
“He’s been really good, I am really impressed with how dedicated he is to his swimming as well as his school work,” shared Donna, Ryan’s mother. “I don’t have to hound him at all, he himself up and jumps right up in the morning, and with school if he knows he has a test or an assignment he doesn’t put it off, he is pretty dedicated that way too. Success Academy is a great program because he will have his associates degree when he graduates so he will be two years ahead of schedule.”
You have to love the water to spend so much of your life in and around it. Ryan has truly grown to love the sport, the challenge to improve and the friendships he has made along the way. “I just love to race. Whenever I am doing stuff at home I always have to turn it into a race, even in practice. One of my buddies, sometimes I just back off on my speed to let him catch up then I try and race him into the wall, I just really love to race,” Ryan says. “It’s really my favorite part about swimming, to take all that I have been training for and then when the gun goes off just going all out.”
Maintaining a 4.0 GPA as a teenager is difficult enough. Add to that college concurrent classes with the goal of associate’s degree and that is some serious pressure. Now strip out four hours a day for an exhausting physical activity, and still have to get school work done on time then sacrifices have to be made to maintain it all.
With just seconds separating his 2nd place finish from his goal for 1st at the State Championship the previous season Ryan has increase his focus and determination to change the outcome. Seconds are hard to shave off in the water, but Ryan trusts his coaches to lead him in the right direction. He just has to put forth the effort to make sure he touchs the wall first. Looking to state Ryan shares, “I know that if I work hard I can do it, so I definitely push myself to my limits to get there.” • HSSI