There were no team dinners for this kid — no ice cream socials, either.
But that doesn’t knock down Lake Forest High School swimmer Bryan Bunning for long. While he doesn’t get to eat with his swimming teammates. He sure gets to jump in the pool with them.
Lake Forest boys' swimming coach Cindy Dell would watch Bunning as he stayed away from his teammates when it was time to eat.
“He knew what he could eat,’’ Dell said. “But it didn’t affect him. He didn’t get depressed. He was a special child.”
Bunning was born with severe food allergies. As time went on, his allergies began to subside and he got down to the business of swimming.
As Saturday's North Suburban Conference meet approaches at Vernon Hills High School, the senior is Lake Forest’s biggest threat in both the 100-yard backstroke and 100 butterfly.
After swimming season, Bunning can make a choice between the icons Harvard, MIT, University of Chicago and Dartmouth. He plans to follow a career path in math, economics and science.
He can move on without his allergies, or maybe just watch the nuts.
"I really had a hard time with milk, eggs and tree nuts,'' Bunning said. "That included ice cream, cakes and all the desserts. My metabolism changed, but I still don't like sweets. And it took me five years to get used to cheese."
So while the team dinners were going on with the swim teams, what was Bunning munching on?
"I would read the ingredients so I had no problems,'' he said. "So I ate a lot of noodles and ham sandwiches."
Of course, there was more to his life than just what was on the kitchen table.
"I just like sports,'' Bunning said. "I tried different sports like basketball, soccer and gymnastics. I really didn't get into club swimming until I was 10 or 11. I think I was a late bloomer."
Dell has coached Bunning along the way at the Lake Forest Swim Club.
"He's such a positive influence,'' Dell said. "He's an unbelievable student of the sport. In addition, he can swim anything. He can swim the 200 IM to freestyle. In club, he focuses on some of the longer events."
Going forward with a mind toward the state meet, Feb. 24-25, in Evanston, Bunning is focused on his backstroke. He recalls freshman year making a time of 57.0 seconds. By his sophomore year, it had dropped to 54.0. A year ago, that time hit 51.8 and was good for eighth in state and all-state honors.
"That was at New Trier,'' he said. "It was the most crowded swimming meet I had ever seen. You couldn't walk around."
Bunning actually had better experience in the butterfly through his work in the swim club, but the Scouts needed a backstroker for the medley relay and he volunteered.
The conference meet is important, but earning a trip to state tops that. There is an incentive along the way: Lake Forest is hosting the sectional on Feb. 18.
"This is the best team I've had here in seven years,'' Dell said. "It's a great team with great attitudes and great leadership."
Bunning knows he will begin his state taper in less than two weeks. In the meantime, he's all about the team.
"I want our team to get to state,'' he said.
When it's time to choose his college, he knows one thing for sure.
"No matter where I end up, I'm going to swim in college,'' he said.