Bonnie Bilich Breaks First World Record in Backstroke

Feature by Emily Sampl

BOULDER, Colorado, December 3. THERE'S no feeling in the world like breaking a world record. Tri-Valley Masters swimmer Bonnie Bilich finally found out what it felt like at the USMS Long Course National Championships in August.

Bonnie outpaced the field in the women's 50-54 200 backstroke, posting a FINA Masters world record of 2:41.88; it was her first career world record. She nearly repeated that feat in the 100 back, going under the previous record of 1:14.19 by a tenth of a second, but it was Karen Andrus-Hughes who got her hand on the wall first in 1:13.55. Breaking records isn't one of Bonnie's main goals, which made it an even greater accomplishment.

"I try not to think about goals too much because then I start putting too much pressure on myself. That takes all the fun out of it," she said. "I guess my main goals are to have fun and to stay injury free."

Bonnie has been involved in Masters swimming off and on since 1987, but unfortunately hasn't been able to compete often. Her family and career as a software engineer at Oracle keep her pretty busy.

"Sometimes it is very hard to find a balance. I never thought two teenagers could keep you so busy with their activities," she said. "However, my husband is very understanding about my swimming commitment and encourages me to continue with my efforts."

Next up on Bonnie's busy schedule will likely be the Pacific Masters Championships in April, followed by the USMS Short Course Nationals in May. Until then, it's back to the pool to train with her friends and teammates at Tri-Valley.

"The camaraderie from my teammates, coach, and the local swim community provide a lot of inspiration to me," she stated. "The Masters swimming organization provides a wonderful framework to enjoy all of this."

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