Graceful As A Swann - An Interview

(Photo provided by Mark Swann)

First of all, how did you first get involved with track and field?

I started in 9th grade because one of my friends suggested it. I made a lot of new friends & found out how much I love track.

What are all your personal records?

60m - 7.12

100m - 10.95

200m - 22.27

4x100m - 42.77 with Jack Kolar, Justin Pearson, and Chris Udalla

Long jump - 20' 5-3/4"

Do you do, or have you done, any other sports?

I played soccer in kindergarten then switched to baseball from 1st-8th grade. Then I played soccer again in 10th and 11th grade, but it was easy to tell that the only thing I was really good at was running in a straight line, so I stuck with track 9-12th grade. 

What is your favorite or most memorable competition you've ever been in?

One of my favorite meet memories was 2016 Section 7AA finals in Grand Rapids.  I ran the 100m, 200m and 4x100m. I won the 200m with my personal best & it's now the Elk River High School all-time record. My teammates & I also won the 4x100m. I also placed 3rd in the 100m that day. I was a little disappointed that I came so close to qualifying for state in the 100m. I was in disbelief when they announced over the loudspeaker "Placing 4th, and qualifying for state, Chris Udalla & placing 3rd & also advancing with a qualifying time is Mark Swann." We looked at each other and absolutely lost it laughing because neither of us thought we qualified. I ended up 8th in the 100m at AA state.

Other than your own teammates, who are some of your favorite athletes to compete against?

Other than my own teammates, some of my favorite athletes to compete against would be Rhett Streeter, Even McClellon, Genuine Matthews, Goodness Akindemowo, Denzel Brown, and Eric Mensah.  Some of the most fun I have is competing against my own teammates & longtime friends Luke Dickinson, Chris Udalla, Justin Pearson, & Matt Dahlson. 

Who are some people that have been most helpful to you in your athletic career?

Some people who have helped me greatly and made me who I am today are definitely my coaches-Martell, Cross, Gilbertson, Hund, & Auel. Also, even though it was only one season, Coach Bourne was amazing. My parents are always there to support me and my teammates too! 

(Photo provided by Mark Swann)

What is a challenge you have had to face as an athlete?

The biggest challenge I have faced as an athlete actually just happened recently. I pulled my hamstring pretty severely at a meet in Farmington while I was running the 100m. I will be out for several weeks. It's hard to be patient & just observe. Once it heals I hope to be right back where I left off. 

How do you help keep yourself focused and motivated so you can pick up where you left off when you return?

I always try to look on the positive side. It could have been much worse. I also like to think of it as my halfway point of my track career. I have all of college to make up for it. As of right now it's been almost 4 weeks since my injury and I've slowly started running again, so things are looking up!

As a senior, how have your perspectives, strategies, or attitudes changed since you first started running, what advice would you give to younger track athletes?

Since I first started track I've gotten a whole lot more serious about it, but honestly track is all about having fun and spending time doing what you love. Don't ever lose sight of what track actually is, always do it for the love of the sport. If you are really committed the season never ends.

What are your main goals for this season?

My goal for this season is to heal my hamstring and then hopefully break our school's 100m record. I'm currently only the 2nd Elk to run it under 11 seconds. I want to work hard & get back to the relays with my boys. 

Do you have any college plans?

For college I plan on running at UMD with my current teammate Christian Leonard. We'll hopefully be roommates. He runs long distance, but somehow we're still friends. I was accepted into Duluth's chemical engineering program so that will be ride.

(Photo provided by Mark Swann)

What were some of the things that attracted you to UMD?

I really love the outdoors so that was a big plus for me. The track program also seemed like a great fit for me, but the main thing was their phenomenal Engineering program.  

Do you have any rituals, routines, or superstitions either on or off the track?

I have many rituals, routines and superstitions, especially on meet days. One of my favorite is that we take the elevator up and down at school on meet days to "save our energy." I always eat a potpie and some Chobani yogurt to start off the day. I also like to take my time setting up my blocks in the 200m. I always lay down on the track and make sure they are angled just how I want them. A fairly new ritual we have is slapping one of the paintings on the wall on the way out to the bus for good luck, but when it comes down to it, a race is a race and everyone is running the same one. All you have to do is out-run them.

When not doing anything track-related, what might we find you doing?

When I'm not at track, I like to hang out with my friends, especially Becky. Most of my friends are also in track. Otherwise I like skiing, disc golfing, hammocking, eating, and mainly sleeping.

Tell me one bizarre fact about yourself.

One bizarre thing about me is that I've had to miss the Hamline Elite Meet 2 years in a row because I am also on the culinary team at my school. We have won state the past 2 years and Nationals has aleays been the same time as the Hamline Elite Meet. Last year we got 9th so hopefully this year goes well too!

For those not in the know, how does typical a culinary competition commence?

So our culinary team consists of five people. It's four people cooking and 1 alternate. I've been on the team the last 2 years. We practice on Sunday mornings at the high school. The program is led by our teacher Mrs. Sabby & Chef Seth Bixby-Daugherty, our mentor. We help at some events like the Charlie Awards and other benefit dinners. We have three main competitions- the Brained invitational at Grand View Lodge, State, and Nationals. Brained is a mystery basket where we cook for some food critics. It's more for fun than anything. State is what actually matters. We cook two identical three-course meals in exactly one hour with no electricity or running water and only two butane burners. We compete against quite a few high schools from across the state. Elk River has placed first in state four years in a row. The first place from each state along with teams from Guam, Japan and Europe advance and are awarded a free trip to the national competition. Last year we went to Grapevine, Texas where we placed 9th. This year we went to Charleston, South Carolina and placed 7th in the nation.  We've been super lucky with all of the support we've had from all of the chefs in the industry that help us out.