Get To Know Cleveland State's Mark deSwardt

by Josh Huger (MrUtopia)

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Created May 1st, 2011 02:59:43 PM

Modified May 1st, 2011 02:59:43 PM

Cleveland State University’s Mark deSwardt is this week’s featured swimmer. Mark, a junior at CSU, has enjoyed many successes during his time with the Vikings.

Those successes have come in the forms of Horizon League Swimmer of the Year honors, Horizon League Swimmer of the Meet distinctions, multiple team records, and several conference records.

In this SwimUtopia interview, Mark tells us about his most memorable moment with the team so far and how training here in the United States has differed from back home in South Africa.

Let’s get started!


What made you choose Cleveland State University?

I decided I wanted to go to college in America rather late and my coach knew people who had come to Cleveland before. I met with them and then emailed the coaches here. It seemed to be what I was looking for and it was.

What places did you come in at this year’s Horizon League Championships?

I won all three of my events, the 500, 1000 and 1650

Did those results match up with the goals you set at the beginning of this season?

Winning the races was obviously my first goal. I was very happy with my 500 and 1000 times, but rather disappointed with the mile.

What is it like training with everyone at CSU?

It is great, I generally train with the distance group and we have a lot of fun at practices. We work really hard together and motivate each other really well. Our team is pretty big this year and we all get along well.

Your roster page says that you are from Durban, South Africa. How has the training here in the United States differed from back home?

Training back home prepared me for the training here. In Durban the workouts were general workouts to get in shape, we had a large club team and it was difficult to get specialized workouts for each individual. Here we have a much smaller group and 3 coaches so it is a lot more specific for our needs

What does the CSU coaching staff do to help set you up for success?

They do everything. If I ever need anything I know I can go to the coaches and they will help me out. Our team has 3 coaches who are all great and all very different. If I have any issues I know at least one of them will be able to help me with it. We aren’t a team with lots of money but we make the most of what we do have

What is your most memorable moment so far with the team?

My most memorable moment with the team would have to be this year at the dual meet at St Bonaventure, we were losing pretty badly around the halfway mark. We lost there my freshmen year and I did not want to lose again so myself and the team captain took the team into the locker room and had a talk about how we were going to win the meet. We all walked out onto the deck focused and won every other race in the meet and won the meet.

What would you say your biggest accomplishment has been in swimming so far?

My biggest accomplishment in swimming would be my freshmen year conference. I won all three of my races, beating the previous conference champions in all three races, and just missed out on qualifying for the NCAA’s in the 1650

What are your top times?

500   Fr- 4:24.96
1000 Fr- 9:01
1650 Fr- 15:02
400   IM- 3:53
200   Fl- 1:49.12

What would you say motivates you?

I love what I do, that is what keeps me motivated. I have always said the day I don’t enjoy swimming I will stop. But I don’t think that will happen any time soon.

What are some things that people may not know about you?

I love swimming open water races and that was my main focus before coming to the US, I am hoping to compete in the US open water nationals next month. I also swam open water races in London and France with the South African squad.

What is your favorite pump-up band or artist to listen to before racing?

Eminem or techno music.

Do you have any pre-meet rituals?

I normally just listen to music and jump around a bit to relax.

What records do you hold?

I hold the Cleveland State University records in the 1650, 1000 and 400im, the first two are also conference records.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite food is chicken.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

I have had many influential people. First it would be my parents who support me with everything I do, without their help I would never be in this position. Then my coach Petro nortjie who believed in me when other people thought I would never be a good swimmer. My gym coach in south Africa, Warren Benson took me from an average person and turned me into an athlete. All my coaches here at CSU who push me everyday to be the best that I can be

What would you say is the hardest practice that you have ever done?

Well I did a 50km swimathon a week or two ago and that took 14 hours but for an actual practice I would say

16x200s free holding best average possible

4 on a 2,40
4 on a 2.30
4 on a 2.25
4 on a 2.20

Then we finished the workout with 5x400s best average on a 5minutes, this was all long course in the off season when I was rather out of shape.

At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to take swimming to the next level?

It was when I was doing open water and one of the national coaches told me if I worked hard enough he would put me on the team to go to London. That changed my whole attitude towards training and swimming.

Please list any other additional information that you would like to share!

I love all sports, in school I played rugby, cricket, water polo, soccer, tennis and did judo. I was a terrible swimmer until I was about 16 years old. I have never lost a race to anyone in the Horizon league besides people on my team in my off events.