Michigan’s Charlie Swanson Continuing Comeback Trend

Michigan's Charlie Swanson is hoping to put everything together for the Wolverines. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Charlie Swanson has made mini-comebacks a theme.

The Michigan senior bounced back from a devastating first race at the NCAA Championships to have a solid finish to the meet.

He did the same thing at the Minnesota Invitational in December, finding a way to finish strong.

“I wasn’t exactly where I wanted at the invite, but as the meet progressed, I got out of whatever hole I had fallen in,” Charlie Swanson told Swimming World. “I wasn’t shaved but the past two years I was, so I think that actually was a mental thing for me at the beginning of the meet.”

In March, Swanson entered NCAAs with the top seed in the 400 IM only to finish 20th. The same thing happened to teammate Felix Auböck, who had the top seed in the 500 only to not score. He bounced back to win the mile. Swanson bounced back to finish ninth in the 200 breaststroke.

“I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if I missed the taper. I got a little sick after Big Tens, which contributed, but I guess I wasn’t prepared for the meet. I didn’t have a comfortable or confident swim. But like Felix, I got out of it and had a good 200 breast. That was big,” Swanson said. “The same thing happened in Minnesota. I have to figure it out. But I will get there.”

Swanson bounced back from NCAAs during the long-course season as well. A member of the U.S. National team, the Richmond, Virginia, native won the gold medal in the 400 IM at the 2019 Pan American Championships.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything like that. It was really interesting because the whole summer I was pretty much training for one event. I went to a pro series and toward the end I just focused on the 400 IM,” Charlie Swanson said.

“Everyone I trained with was at nationals and I had a group of 4-5 people that stuck around and trained with me. It was a little more relaxed. I was there for eight days before I swam. I went to the pool twice a day, warmed up. I was on the prelims of the 400 mixed relay and got me back into racing and feel the venue.”

After all of that waiting, it was finally time to race, unlike the U.S. Trials and nationals where the 400 IM is on the first day.

“The 400 IM came around and I felt oddly good in the morning. People told me I looked really relaxed,” he said. “I went out faster than I ever had before in finals. It helped push me further. I had one of the better swims of my life and that helped me work it out.”

Swanson won the gold medal with a 4:11.46. That swim put him fourth in the world for the 2019 calendar year and it was faster than the bronze medal winning time at the World Championships.

That performance on the international stage gives Swanson a bit of momentum heading into 2020, but it isn’t something that is making him overconfident.

“I try not to think about it too much. I never considered myself a contender until I heard people talking about me having a shot. I never saw myself there two years ago. Being on the national team was a huge accomplishment. I just want to make finals but it is pretty awesome to be in contention and have people know your name,” he said. “If it happens, awesome, but I am not going to go in there thinking I will make it. It was a good thing that happened the year before instead of 2-3 years before an Olympic year. That would have been a lot of pressure.”

Swanson is just another member of the long line of great 400 IM’ers to come out of the University of Michigan including Tom Dolan, Eric NamesnikTim SicilianoAlex Vanderkaay and Tyler Clary, who either won NCAA titles or medaled at the Olympic Games.

But Swanson has other things on his mind, like winning a Big Ten team title.

“Minnesota was a big confidence boost for us. Everyone is excited that we were ranked third. A lot of people had best times, which is cool. The Big Ten is getting better, which just brings more excitement,” he said. “The first half of my meet wasn’t the greatest, and I would guess Felix would say the same thing. Morning swims matter the most because you need a lane at night. We are excited to see what we can show.”

Michigan finished second behind Texas in Minnesota but edged defending national champion Cal.

“I think we were all a little bit scared going into it. Texas was a little ahead of us at that point in some events. Racing Cal was really fun, especially in the relays,” Swanson said. “Texas was so fast and the rest of the teams were in the same boat. Beating Cal at the end was big.”

With Michigan ranked No. 3 behind Texas and Cal, the Minnesota Invitational was a mini-preview of NCAAs.

“It would be cool to A final in the 400 IM and 200 breast. Of course, it would be cool to win 400 IM, but I am not going to expect that after having the top seed and taking 20th. That was pretty brutal,” Charlie Swanson said. “Relays are where we want to focus. We are faster than we were at Big Tens already. That is the most important part of NCAAs and that is where we have been lacking.”

If Swanson and the Wolverines can put together a couple of elite relays, the gap between the top teams will be closing fast.

More Big Ten swimming.

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