Q & A With Jordan Swarthout

Nov. 12, 2009

Olympia's Jordan Swarthout is in his fourth year in the UW distance program and currently competing in his junior season for the 17th-ranked Husky men's cross country team. The Capital High grad came on very strong at the end of the 2008 season, scoring for the Huskies at all three postseason meets including finishing 108th at NCAA's (third on the team) as the team finished 18th. After a summer spent living abroad in Russia, Swarthout has built back up and looks poised to peak in the postseason once again. He ran in UW's top-five for the first time this season at Pac-10s, placing 30th, and will be counted on this weekend at Regionals as the Huskies look to secure a spot at the NCAA Championships. A multiple Pac-10 All-Academic First Team member, Swarthout talks about his studies, training, and goals for the end of the year.

GoHuskies.com: What led you to UW?
Jordan Swarthout:
'To be honest the first time I looked at the UW was in my sophomore year for one of the Dempsey indoor meets. I hadn't even been considering UW, and came up for a track meet, and one of my friends' dads showed me around campus and that's how it got started.'

GH: How long have you been running competitively?
'I started in Elementary school doing YMCA Track & Field but it wasn't in any way what I thought I'd be doing in the next 10-12 years. In eighth grade is when I really decided I wanted to be a runner.'

GH: What other sports did you play growing up?
'Really I tried them all but I didn't really like tee-ball; I did more drawing in the dirt than picking up the ball. I wasn't very good at soccer. In basketball I could never get the ball in the hoop. So, I got those over with pretty quick and then in middle school I actually thought I was going to be a swimmer so all throughout high school I ran in the fall and spring, and swam in the winter.'

GH: What's your average weekly mileage?
'This season I've been running about 80 miles, and peaked at 90 at the end of August, and every year I've been adding 10 miles to my mileage.'

GH: Do you ever get tired of running? How long do you take off after a season?
'I usually take a week, maybe two weeks tops after a season. So I take a week off after nationals and a week off in June. For the most part in can be a long season but it's never too bad.'

GH: What led you to Russia this summer?
'That has been an interesting road. I came into college at second year French, that's the language I took all through high school, and decided everyone knows French, that's too easy, so I wanted to do another language. Initially I hoped to go into Arabic and applied to the same program I did this summer my freshman year for Arabic, but didn't get in. Then right before my sophomore year a family friend invited me to go to the Russian Consulate here in Seattle with him to celebrate their national holiday. After that I went home and switched into Russian. From there I've been concentrating on Russian ever since.'

GH: How difficult was it to run there and keep your mileage up?
'It was definitely a cultural shock because in Russia when you strap on the short shorts and go running down the sidewalk everyone looks at you like `what the heck are you doing?' My host family spent the first two weeks trying to get me to run my 10-mile runs around the track. I spent 30 minutes doing loops around a concrete square, and then I was like, `I'm sorry I just can't do this.' I was able to get in the mileage but it was tough to get in the workouts.'

GH: What are you majoring in?
'Russian and International Studies'

GH: What do you plan to do with that?
'My dream job is to go into the state department and work on arms control, especially nuclear weapons.'

GH: What's been your favorite class at UW so far?
'Probably last spring, we did a lot of case studies in International Politics; we'd pretty much adopt a role as a diplomat from the U.S. or another country and have to take on this case study and act out the way a real diplomat would. It was a much more hands-on experience than just reading a textbook.'

GH: Do you have any superstitions?
'I've had superstitions over the years but nothing has actually stuck. I had a Husky t-shirt that had become so ratty by my sophomore year that I had to throw it out. I've gone through those so I realized that no one thing will be crucial to my race.'

GH: What's your most memorable race?
'My most memorable race ever was probably my sophomore year of high school, when I wasn't expecting it whatsoever, I came through and broke our school record in the 2-mile. It was at districts, and was the first time I ever qualified for state. I was just happy about that and my coach came up and said, `You just broke the school record.' Second to that would be the Nationals experience last year.

GH: What's your goal for the rest of the season?
'My personal goal has been what it has been the entire season. Really I've been thinking about it since I finished the race last year, just to be in the Top-80 this year contributing to a Top-10 team at Nationals.'

GH: What are your plans for after college?
'I definitely would like to go into marathons. It seems like every time people ask me, `You're a distance runner. Have you ever run a marathon?' and I'm like, `Not yet.' But as far as competing, I probably won't be doing that anymore.'

GH: Who do you hang out with the most? What do you do for fun?
'Probably the people I hang out the most with are Joey Bywater and David McCary. We run together a lot and as far as hanging out afterwards, we go over and watch football games. I've kind of ran out of time for fun. I like watching UW sports and hanging out with friends.'

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