Bruce Johnson was born in 1955. He did his youth swimming for the YMCA coached by Harold Leach. He is a 1973 graduate of Jamestown High School where he was a four-year breaststroke swimmer for fellow CSHOF inductee Coach Bill Rollinger (1996).
Johnson attended North Park University where he swam four years. He set North Park records in the 100 and 200 breaststroke races.