Frances Swanson ’17 is an athlete who participates on both the track and cross-country teams. She has won many honors during her four years at Lewis & Clark. I sat down with her to learn about her life as a student athlete.
Zachary Lerman: What do you prefer to do more, Track or Cross Country? Why?
Frances Swanson: This is always the big question…. I don’t know. I’ve always been more of a cross country runner because I really enjoy trail runs and being outside just cause I find it to be more relaxing and more interesting but I’ve started to really like track cause its kind of just a different experience, like a totally different experience during the race. So I like both.
ZL: Any notable pre-race rituals?
FS: Yea, I always drink a bunch of coffee two hours before the race and then while I’m doing that I like to listen to MIA’s album, “Matangi”. Yeah, so I just listen to the whole album, while just kind of relaxing and drinking coffee and then like an hour before I start warming up with the team.
ZL: How do you relax after a race?
FS: Usually, it’s not a choice cause I feel really tired. I usually like to eat a burrito. It was a tradition for Kori Groenveld ’18 who’s studying abroad in Spain right now but she’s on the Cross country and track teams. After every single cross country race we would go to Baha Fresh and get a burrito…and probably more coffee.
ZL: How do you balance the rigors of a liberal arts education and D3 sports?
FS:I think that being a D3 athlete has actually really helped my academics partially because there are a lot of role models on the team since freshman year who are very serious about their academics and did very well. So I had people to look up to who had a lot success in academics and cross-country. I also think it’s really helpful for me to have a schedule because it helps to manage my time and it gives me really nice break during the day that ultimately gives me more energy. So I actually think it’s been really important for my academics, instead of taking away from it.
ZL:What is your favorite memory of being in cross country/track at LC?
FS: I mean there are so many but every year during cross-country we go to the coast, as like a little pre-season retreat. It’s always a really fun time to get to know the team that year and we all go on little runs and jump in the ocean. It’s a really fun, relaxing time to just hang out with the team when it’s sunny here and when we don’t have school.
ZL: How did you discover your love for running?
FS: So I’ve ran since middle school but I really wasn’t into it till my sophomore year of high school and it was mainly because if I was spending my time doing this, I should take it seriously. Also in the bay area there are also just really beautiful running and hiking trails. So I really got into running once I got a car and I could drive to different trail heads and just run around. I also had an amazing cross-country coach in high school and she was so passionate about running, she really instilled that in me.
ZL: Do you have a favorite place to run?
FS: I love to run in Tryon, that’s my favorite place here. It’s amazing that it’s only minutes from campus. I really have gotten to love our track. Whenever you’re tired, you can just look up and it’s kind of surrounded by trees, which I love. I also like to run at home in the bay area in San Rafael, Calif.
ZL: People often say competitive sports can teach you skills that you can apply in everyday life, has running competitively taught you anything important that you can apply to everyday life?
FS: For me, I love competition and I love having a competitive outlet cause when school gets stressful, it’s always nice to really work toward something that’s kind of unrelated but ultimately makes me feel good. Let’s see, I think a lot of the skills that I’ve gotten in running and like being on a team, like pushing yourself and working with your teammates and trying to be consistent in your running and not burning out are all things that I try and use in my everyday life… I mean I think one of the biggest things for me with running is about setting goals and trying to work hard to achieve those goals. That’s something that’s really important for everyday life because the goals you set are individual in a lot of ways. You’re not really going by other people’s standards. You’re setting goals that you can reasonably achieve but with hard work.
ZL: What do you hope to leave behind for the LC track and cross-country teams?
FS: What I really tried to do as captain of the cross-country team last year was really trying to make it about the relationships between the runners. The reason why we all run on a team and competitively is because we’re like a “run family.” Some of my best friends from college I have made on the cross-country and track teams and that is ultimately the most important thing we can be doing. Is really building those relationships, being kind to each other, laughing with each other and supporting each other because ultimately that is what we are really going to take away from running in college. You might remember a PR or awesome races but I think the most important thing is the “run family.”