Carnegie Mellon University
May 09, 2022

Student Athlete Breaks Records while Pursuing Double Major

By Marissa Pekular

Rising senior Bonnie Wang is a member of the Women’s Varsity Swimming and Diving Team. She holds university records and national awards for her athletic talents and is also double majoring in business administration and psychology. Wang renewed her commitment to swimming despite some setbacks during the pandemic.

“I started swimming when I was nine,” said Wang. “I got serious about it when I was 13, and then started college recruiting at the age of 16.”

Wang accepted the offer from CMU because she was convinced the university would be a good fit. During her first year as a swimmer and student at CMU, she found the general intensity and time commitment that comes with college-level sports to be a difficult transition. Being from Canada, Wang grew up in a small, local club team, which is a significant contrast to CMU, a Division 3 swim team. She quickly found that swimming actually helped her regain balance in her life by using the time commitments to provide daily structure.

“After I got used to the size difference, I really enjoyed my experience [at CMU],” said Wang. “The team is very friendly, and it is a positive atmosphere. I like my coach. He is very supportive.”

Wang has proven to be an invaluable asset for the university’s swim team. She was named to the CSCAA Scholar All-America Team in 2019-2020 and the All-America Team in the 200-yard backstroke in the same season. Wang was named the University Athletic Association Women’s Swimmer of the Week twice during the 2021 season and also holds the university record in the 100 and 200 backstroke events.

Wang’s accomplishments in the water and in the classroom were on a roll until she and all of her fellow students and athletes ran into COVID-19. In 2020, Wang and the team were preparing to leave for the NCAA Championships, only to have the team’s dreams dashed as the competition was canceled days before the event was scheduled to begin.

“We all went home after the meet was canceled,” said Wang. “I didn’t realize that my last practice would be the last time I swam for a year. I didn’t touch the pool for an entire year.”

Before the pandemic, the longest break from swimming Wang took was a week. After a few months of being home, she believed it was time to retire from the sport altogether.

After a year of virtual learning, Wang returned to campus and very spontaneously started swimming again. 

“The break was actually good for me,” she said. “Taking time off allowed me to reset. I was able to get back into swimming very quickly, and I’m actually faster now than I was before.”

Wang has enjoyed being a student athlete at CMU, and she is optimistic about the year ahead.

“This past season was the best ever in my entire career,” said Wang. “There are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish, and I will definitely be swimming next year during my senior year.”

After graduation, Wang plans to explore finance or marketing with an eye on establishing a start-up.