Swartz: High Jumping Over Adversity

By Kevin Sullivan

Shawn Swartz, a junior from Washington State, competed in the high jump at the Pac-12 Championships after fighting off leukemia and being in remission for almost a year.

Swartz explained that he has struggled to get back to where he was before being diagnosed with leukemia, but he said that his bout with cancer has made him tougher.

"That's what leukemia did for me," said Swartz. "It made me appreciate this sport a lot. [I learned] to not take anything for granted."

Even with the hardships he has had to overcome, Swartz has a tendency to be hard on himself.

"I've been my biggest critic for sure," said Swartz. "I always had high expectations for myself."

When he was battling leukemia, Swartz kept himself mentally strong by not thinking about the side effects of chemotherapy.

"Ninety percent of track and field is mental," said Swartz.

He also had a strong support from his mother and the entire WSU Athletic Department, who helped fundraise for him.

"They never questioned my coming back when a lot of other teams might have," said Swartz.

Swartz was disappointed with his performance at this year's Pac-12 Championships. He felt he jumped better last year when he was still going through chemotherapy. This hard worker has one more year to improve his jumping ability. Swartz, being from British Columbia, also plans to go to the Olympic trials this year to make it on the Canadian team.

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