Bonge excels at D-1 Rider
Daniel Bonge is just two years removed from his final swimming season at Salisbury, one that included eight postseason medals, including gold in the 100-yard butterfly at states.
Now the former Falcon is making a name for himself at the Division I collegiate level.
Bonge’s second season at Rider University is picking up where his first one left off. The 2017 graduate of Salisbury recently set several personal bests, including a school record of 1:47.86 in the 100-yard butterfly at Brown University’s Bruno Invite two months ago.
“My sophomore season has been off to a good start,” Bonge said. “Training has been more intensified in the weight room as well as the pool. I had probably the best meet of my life at my mid-season meet, breaking a lot of barriers in the swimming world.”
Rider, winners of seven straight MAAC championships on the men’s side, is currently 7-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 in MAAC competition. The Broncs hope to make it eight in a row in mid-February, and Bonge hopes to play a role in their title run.
As a freshman, Bonge’s impact was felt immediately. He impressed his coaches from the start. When the MAAC Championships rolled around last season, Bonge swam in the 400-free relay team that captured gold.
“Being on a relay team as a freshman at the end-of-the-year championships is always a fun, yet nerve-wracking experience,” Bonge said. “But I knew I was ready for the challenge. It was such a great experience and memory that I will have with me forever.”
He also placed in two other individual events: third in the 100-yard butterfly and fourth in the 200-yard butterfly. It’s a race that Bonge has had so much success in over his swimming career.
“I was just ecstatic to podium as a freshman and earn as many points for my team as I could,” Bonge said. “I’m hoping to place better at this year’s championships and lower my times even more.
“My coaches Shannon Daly and Stephen Fletcher are great coaches, no matter who is on the team. They know what we’re strong in, and they know how to train us. We lost three seniors who were big point-scorers last year at our MAAC Championships. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we’re all working hard and grinding to win another MAAC championship.”
While only just a sophomore, Bonge is stepping into a leadership role for other Rider swimmers, too. He learned that role from his time at Salisbury, even more so when he finished his senior season with three district gold medals.
With tradition on the line and a streak at stake, the Broncs and Bonge are gearing up for another potential MAAC title. This year, however, Bonge will be swimming the 50-yard freestyle rather than the 100-yard backstroke that he competed in last year, along with the butterfly events.
“It’s great to be a part of such a strong team; it really builds character,” Bonge said. “Being only a sophomore I am still one of the young ones on the team, but I feel a lot of people look up to me. I look forward to continue being a leader on this team and help my teammates in whatever way I can.”
The four-day MAAC Championships will be held February 13-16 at Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY.