In Play with Craig Mattick: Tony Schwan
He was one of the best high school sprinters in state history. Tony Schwan, who would go on to have a college running career at North Dakota State, was a nine time state champion for Aberdeen Central. This year, he's also being inducted into the Golden Eagles Hall of Fame.
Craig Mattick: Welcome to another edition of In Play. I'm Craig Mattick today's guest was an outstanding sprinter, a nine-time state champion. He's tied with five others with the most individual gold medals in one year, with four, and he's tied with just one other on having the most individual gold medal awards in a career, with eight. A two-time state champ in the 100-meter dash, once in the 200, plus he played football and hockey. And after high school, went to North Dakota State. And after 20 years, he hasn't given up hitting the road. He's Aberdeen Central's Tony Schwan. Tony, welcome to In Play.
Tony Schwan: Thank you, Craig. Honor to be here.
Craig Mattick: Hey, by the way, congratulations. You're being inducted into the Aberdeen Central Sports Hall of Fame this year. Way to go.
Tony Schwan: Oh yeah, thank you. That means a lot, you know? Me and my teammates, we gave a lot for those central teams, and I feel honestly like I'm just representing them, so...
Craig Mattick: Mm-hmm. You know, I mentioned you played football and hockey. I know you were a pretty good football player for the Golden Eagles, but I'm not so sure I know much about this hockey thing. How did that hockey career go?
Tony Schwan: It went all right. It was with the Aberdeen Cougars, which you know, is not affiliated with the school, Aberdeen Central, but I actually kind of enjoyed hockey the most, you know? Because when I played football, I was always getting hit, being the running back, and hockey, I played defense, so I could actually do a little hitting myself, but... So it was fun.
Craig Mattick: Was hockey a part of your whole high school career, or was it before high school? How long did you play hockey?
Tony Schwan: I started in fifth grade, up all the way through high school.
Craig Mattick: Mm-hmm? Didn't consider hockey being something you could maybe advance your career on later on?
Tony Schwan: No. No, I didn't. I don't think I was good enough to go to the next level for hockey.
Craig Mattick: Wow, but you're playing football in the fall, you're playing hockey in the winter, you got track in the spring. You didn't have much time off with sports in high school.
Tony Schwan: No, I really had none. I actually, as I went up through high school, I played so many sports, I had to dwindle it down to three, so that's kind of occupied my time. But yeah, I...
Craig Mattick: Was it a big time sports family, with mom and dad and the siblings at all?
Tony Schwan: You know, not really. I had a sister. She did dance, and then she went on to dance for the ND Fighting Sioux up there. She actually danced for their hockey team.
Craig Mattick: Oh.
Tony Schwan: And then myself and my dad, he was an athlete, actually back in high school down in Arizona, as a pole vaulter. I'll have to give a shout-out to him. He still holds the school pole-vault record, because the school no longer exists, so I don't think it's ever going to be broken, so he's always got that one over me. And he did a little vaulting in college at Northern State here. And my mom really wasn't into athletics, so I was really kind of the one that kept them all busy, as far as running around to practices all year round.
Craig Mattick: Right. Yeah, you needed the mom to do that, no doubt about it.
Tony Schwan: Yep.
Craig Mattick: You know, in football, Aberdeen Central did make it to the AA football championship game. That was in 2000, played your ESD rival, Brookings, in the final. Of course, lost the game 21-14. Do you remember anything about that game?
Tony Schwan: I do.
Craig Mattick: How much you were involved with it?
Tony Schwan: Yeah, I do. I remember that. I remember scoring a touchdown, but apparently it wasn't enough. You just reminded me of the score, so probably should have scored a few more.
Craig Mattick: How important was football to you?
Tony Schwan: It was very important. When I went off to college, I had to kind of choose which one I was going to do, and I ended up choosing track over football, mainly so I could just have more time, I felt, to focus on my engineering degree. But it was a hard choice.
Craig Mattick: Hmm. What did you like the most about football?
Tony Schwan: Let's see. I don't know, I liked the team aspect of it. I'm actually more of a team guy. I like playing on team sports, even though track's really kind of an individual thing, but our coach kind of had it in our head what we had to do for the team, even for track, so... Football was fun, you know? You're out there with the guys, and you've got to do your part, and everybody does their part, and it ends up usually in a good success, but...
Craig Mattick: Well, it had been a long time since Aberdeen Central had been to a state football championship game.
Tony Schwan: Yeah, I don't even know. Do you know when it was?
Craig Mattick: It was-
Tony Schwan: You probably know.
Craig Mattick: It was a long time. I do know that Aberdeen Central made it back to the championship just a couple of years later too, so-
Tony Schwan: Yeah. Yeah, they did. They had a good group, those kids. I think they were two years below me, with like Taylor Melhoff, and Brian Jark, and Todd Lamont, and them.
Craig Mattick: Yes. Well, Brian Jark, one of your competitors when it came to track, I mean you had... Your biggest... When it came to track, some of your toughest competition were some of your teammates.
Tony Schwan: Yeah. I think from what I remember-
Craig Mattick: John Ford.
Tony Schwan: ... my senior year, there were... John Ford. There was three of us that made-
Craig Mattick: Cody Axland.
Tony Schwan: ... finals for the hundred.
Craig Mattick: Right.
Tony Schwan: Yep, Cody.
Craig Mattick: So that had to be kind of fun, knowing that you had three teammates that were really pushing you when it came to track.
Tony Schwan: Yeah, I did. We had a lot of depth. Now that I look back on it now, it was kind of crazy how much depth we had. We could pretty much rotate six or seven guys in and out of the four by one and four by two, and still have the best team on paper, which is crazy. A lot of schools have a hard time fielding one team, but we could rotate multiple teams out and still be competitive.
Craig Mattick: Tony, you saw success in track. When was it decided, though, that you were going to be a sprinter, rather than maybe one of those longer races, you know? Maybe the 400, or the 800, or the mile.
Tony Schwan: Well, I mean, sprinting kind of came naturally through my younger years of playing soccer. I was always a striker, and so you know, when you're young, there's not much soccer tactics. It's more or less kick a through ball and let a fast guy go get it, and that's kind of what I did. But when I got up to running actual track, I actually almost did not become a sprinter. Even though I was never good at the long distance, I actually got interested in pole vault, and eighth and ninth grade, I was getting into pole vault, and then Coach Hughes came over to me and said they needed me for the team for four running events, so that was the end of my vaulting career, and I became a sprinter full time.
Craig Mattick: I'll brag a little bit. When I was in high school, and that was a long time ago, I did try the pole vault too, but back then, back in the '70s, the poles never bent. I thought they were the back axle of a Ford.
Tony Schwan: Yeah.
Craig Mattick: They just never bent, and I just wasn't good enough to do that. So how long did you go with the pole vault?
Tony Schwan: You know, I only vaulted for two years, when I started track in junior high, which was eighth grade and ninth grade, and I was just starting to get good at it, and I kind of liked it, but I needed to be in four running events, and in South Dakota, as you know, in high school, you're only allowed to qualify for four events at state.
Craig Mattick: Uh-huh.
Tony Schwan: So that's what I did, and I never went back to the vaulting pit.
Craig Mattick: Well, you think back on your sophomore year, of course the year after you quit pole vaulting, your sophomore year in track, you're at the state track meet, and you qualified in the 100-meter dash. You placed sixth. You clocked 11.38. What was it like? What were you going through at that time, as a 10th grader, at the state track meet in the finals?
Tony Schwan: What was I going through? Just not to jump, not to jump the gun and get disqualified, because I was like, "Oh, man. I know my team needs some points. Just don't jump. Just don't jump the gun." So eventually, I got over that mentality, but as a 10th grader, yeah, that's kind of all I was thinking, is, "Don't jump out of the blocks and get DQ'd."
Craig Mattick: You placed sixth. Of course, you were going up against a lot of upperclassmen. I think it was an Olvenden from Sioux Falls Roosevelt that won that year.
Tony Schwan: Yeah.
Craig Mattick: And you did not make the finals in the 200 that year. What were you thinking about track at that time? Was there nervousness, or was there some confidence, knowing that you had a chance to be competitive with those as a sophomore?
Tony Schwan: I knew I could kind of get better. I didn't put a lot of time into it as a ninth and 10th grader. I was just like, Okay, if I get rid of some of these other sports I'm getting run around to all the time, and focus just on track in the spring, I can probably get up there and actually compete in the finals for podium," so that's kind of what I was thinking after my sophomore year, like, "Oh, this is a little more than just some soccer speed to go catch a soccer ball that's kicked down the field.
Craig Mattick: Right.
Tony Schwan: So my junior year is when I really started to take it mostly seriously.
Craig Mattick: So what happened that junior year, at the state track meet in the 100?
Tony Schwan: Oh, what happened?
Craig Mattick: Yeah.
Tony Schwan: I think I won, from what I remember.
Craig Mattick: And you qualified-
Tony Schwan: Barely.
Craig Mattick: ... qualified for the 200 as well.
Tony Schwan: I did.
Craig Mattick: Yeah.
Tony Schwan: I don't know what I got there. Did I finish second, or... I didn't win.
Craig Mattick: No.
Tony Schwan: It was second or third, or some... What did I get?
Craig Mattick: You know what?
Tony Schwan: Oh man, I don't remember.
Craig Mattick: I don't have those... I tried finding your junior year. I couldn't find where you finished-
Tony Schwan: Really?
Craig Mattick: ... in the 200 that year.
Tony Schwan: Jeez.
Craig Mattick: I found 2000 and 2002, but 2001, there's a little blemish out there somewhere.
Tony Schwan: I wonder where it went. I think, from what I remember, the kid from Rapid City Stevens won. I think his name was Ryan Svenson.
Craig Mattick: Yes. Yeah, I remember that name.
Tony Schwan: Or something. Does that ring a bell?
Craig Mattick: Yep, yep.
Tony Schwan: But I can't remember if I finished second or third behind him. I don't remember.
Craig Mattick: But again, you were-
Tony Schwan: Well, shoot, I was hoping you'd tell me.
Craig Mattick: But again, you were competing against upper-graders as well, and knowing that you competed against upper-graders your sophomore and junior year, in the 100 and the 200, how did you prepare for your senior year, knowing that you were going to have a pretty good chance to have a pretty good senior year?
Tony Schwan: Well, we knew, I believe our second... our junior year, I believe as a team, we took second place in the points, behind Stevens. Our entire class kind of knew like, "Okay, we just got to come back and do our part, and we will rack up the points and take the team title," so our focus our senior year was really the team title, and, "You do your part, and we will win the team title with our depth, by a lot," and from what I remember, I believe we executed and scored quite a few points over the second place team, but-
Craig Mattick: Mm-hmm.
Tony Schwan: So my senior year, it was, "Okay, I got to do my part. Now that I'm in four events, I got to get 40 points," and that was the mentality.
Craig Mattick: You guys scored 125 points to Rapid City Central's 96-and-a-half, so-
Tony Schwan: Oh, there go.
Craig Mattick: Yeah, so you did very well. Prior to the state track, though, or the track season your senior year, what were some of the other coaches thinking when you were involved with football and other sports. They didn't want you to get hurt at all for the track.
Tony Schwan: No. No, they didn't. You know, they didn't mind the football or the hockey too much, because I still, even at the end of hockey season, I was actually doing two practices, going to indoor track practice and then going to hockey practice at night, but the hurt thing, that's actually what made me pull out of soccer at age 16, was I had to... I broke my hand, I believe my freshman year, and actually ran track that year with like a splint on my arm, and so that was pretty much, then they're like, "You need to focus on track." And that was the end of my soccer career.
Craig Mattick: Was that the most serious injury you had to overcome in your high school career?
Tony Schwan: Yeah. I mean, I'd say injury in my high school career, I was pretty lucky. I didn't have any real injuries. I had shin splints a lot, but just went in the ice bath, and it seemed to take care of it, but I was pretty fortunate.
Craig Mattick: Let's focus on your senior year. You win four individual gold medals at the state track meet. It's in Sioux Falls. It's 2002, and some of your toughest competition that year in the 100 and the 200 came from your teammates, John Ford, Cody Axland, Brian Jark. What were those practices like, with those three guys pushing you?
Tony Schwan: You know, they were pretty intense as far as technique would go. Like I said, we could rotate pretty much anyone in and out of the four by one, four by two, and still have one of the top teams in the state, so it was... We knew Coach Hughes was watching our handoff, and if you didn't execute in practice, you weren't on the relay team in the meet, because that was that. So we worked on handoffs a ton, I'd say more than anybody.
Craig Mattick: Senior year, state track meet, 100-meter dash. You're the number one seed. I think you had the best time that year. It was a 10.7. also in the finals that year was Ford and Jark. You had Simon Dancler, Sioux Falls Washington, Cody English of Stevens, Josh Olsen of Watertown, and David Fields of Sturgis. What was going through your mind during qualifying and preparing for the finals against those guys?
Tony Schwan: During qualifying, it was more just execute parts of the race without expending too much injury or risking injury. You kind of listen to Coach Hughes on that. He was pretty good about, I'll say preparing us for what mattered, which was the finals, and not prelims or stuff that doesn't matter, that can just increase your risk. So I was just focused on what Coach Hughes told me, and when I got to the finals, I was... I knew I could get out faster than anybody else, so I was like, "I just got to get out and then hold it, and I'll be fine," so that's what I did.
Craig Mattick: Yeah. You won the 100, time of 10.83. You beat your teammate, John Ford, by about what, half a second? In that race?
Tony Schwan: Yeah. Probably.
Craig Mattick: Well, he was behind you, but really close behind you. By the way, you ran 10.83 in the 100. You ran 10.7. The state track record now, in the 100, Matthew Stall of Sioux Falls Washington, his time's now 10.49.
Tony Schwan: Wow.
Craig Mattick: In the 100.
Tony Schwan: These kids are getting fast.
Craig Mattick: That was set back in 2021. What about the blocks? Some guys have a hard time getting comfortable in the blocks when you're sprinting, in the 100 or the 200. How comfortable were you, and how long did it take you to feel comfortable in those blocks?
Tony Schwan: So me, I kind of had a good block start, and it came kind of from my hockey background. In hockey, you got to go from zero to 100 pretty quick, and just accelerate to the boards or to the corner, and wherever you got to go, so I could just go from zero to fast right away, and it had to come from mostly a lot of hockey training.
Craig Mattick: Mm.
Tony Schwan: So that's how I got my block started, and then Coach Hughes had to fix my running form. My sprint form wasn't really that good. I had a little of that hockey start, kind of went a little too far down the track, but Hughes straightened me out.
Craig Mattick: Mm, so hockey had an influence in your track career?
Tony Schwan: It did. I'll say, yeah, definitely with the start. We had to correct the form as we got past the dry phase, but it definitely got me out of the blocks pretty quick.
Craig Mattick: How about football? What did track do to you for football?
Tony Schwan: Kept me in shape and got me ready for those gassers you got to run at the end of practice.
Craig Mattick: So you win the 100-meter dash your senior year, and you win the gold medal in that. Then in the 200-meter dash is a little bit later in the track meet. Again, you're the number one seed. You had the state's fastest time that year, at 22.2. So in the finals, you got, again, two teammates lined up there ready to go. You got Cody Axland and John Ford. Then you had Washington's Simon Dancler again. O'Gorman had Tyler Bartling. Stevens had Jordan McCaskill. Spearfish had Casey Jeffrey and Lucas Glazeman of Watertown. What do you know about those guys? I would assume you saw them all season.
Tony Schwan: Yeah. I kind of knew my competition from the 100 would carry over to the 200. That event was a little tougher for me. You had to hold your speed a little longer, so the hockey start really didn't help you too much, but I could just... As long as I... My goal there was to get off the curve. I was a pretty good curve runner, and get off the curve ahead of them, and that'll apply pressure on the rest of them, and then hopefully their form will break down, and they'll decelerate slower than I'm decelerating in the last 100.
Craig Mattick: So you win the 200. Your time was 22.17. I think that was your best time of the year. Do you remember?
Tony Schwan: For that year, it was. I think, yeah, in my junior year, I ran 21.9-something at conferences. But yeah, that was my best time for my senior year, in the 200.
Craig Mattick: By the way, the state track meet record now in the 200, Jacob Hyde, St. Thomas More, back in 2019 ran 21.51.
Tony Schwan: Oh, wow. Jeez.
Craig Mattick: But you were a trendsetter. See? See what you set? What you set?
Tony Schwan: They've far exceeded what I've done.
Craig Mattick: That day, in the 100 and 200, was it a good running day? Was it a cold day, or was it a hot day? I'm trying to remember.
Tony Schwan: You know, it was good. I don't know what it is about now compared to 20 years ago, but I always remember track meets being hot, like I would have to hide from the sun hot. And now, it just seems like we can't get over winter, so I don't know what's going on, but... So it was hot. It was a little windy. Usually on the 200, you kind of had a crosswind at Howard Wood. I don't know how they got the track formed now, with the bleachers, but I remember it was at kind of a little angle. It wasn't straight to north-south or east-west, but-
Craig Mattick: You win the 200 and you win the gold medal in that one your senior year. And to really no surprise, and you mentioned it earlier, that Aberdeen Central, you won the boy's track title that year, in 2002, but of course, you got the top two relays, the four by one and the four by two. You won gold medals with those as well, and I'll tell you what. You guys were stacked in the relays. How did your coach even figure out who was going to run with all the talent you had amongst all the sprinters?
Tony Schwan: Well, he had to basically take people out and put them in other events, just because we were so deep with athletes, just athletes, that he had to take people out that actually probably, just by pure speed, should have been on a four by one, four by two, but he needed them to score points in like the long jump or the triple jump. So that's kind of how Coach planned it, is how to maximize the team points.
Craig Mattick: Well, he was right. He had you anchor both the four by one and the four by two.
Tony Schwan: With my teammates, my job wasn't too tough, you know? Just grab the baton and don't give up the lead.
Craig Mattick: Did you ever get the baton behind in the four by one?
Tony Schwan: I did. I think one time, I did. I remember that, because I don't know where it was at. It might have been Howard Wood, but I was behind O'Gorman. I don't know why or how that happened, but that was... I had to reel them in, but we did.
Craig Mattick: You were chosen the class AA boy's MVP that senior year, special day for you, Tony. And of course, what were you thinking, standing on that awards stand that day in Sioux Falls?
Tony Schwan: You know, we just were all there, and we just felt like we executed our plans to the T, and so we were just... It was more like a businesslike attitude, like, "This is what we're going to do, and we're going to do it, and now we've done it," so I don't know. We weren't really jumping for joy or anything like that, or popping champagne bottles, but...
Craig Mattick: You guys were pretty confident.
Tony Schwan: We were confident, that's for sure, and we had a plan, and we just had to execute it.
Craig Mattick: Tony, you went to North Dakota State after graduation. You ran track there, but I know you wanted to get into engineering. Were there other schools, though, that you considered, maybe to run track?
Tony Schwan: Yeah. The final three, I guess, and they're all different, was Brown, over in the Ivy League, and then I got nominated, actually, to go to West Point Military Academy, and then North Dakota State, so those were kind of my final three after looking at offers my senior year for track. And I chose NDSU, just because I like the Midwest. Didn't really want to leave too far, and their engineering degree, and I could run track. So I guess I checked the box in all three of those things, so that's why I chose North Dakota State. And Don Larson's a pretty convincing recruiter, so...
Craig Mattick: Well, at NDSU, you're running the indoor and outdoor season. You're running like the 55- and the 60-meter races, the 200. How big of a change was it, moving to the college level, and in track, especially the indoor season?
Tony Schwan: It's a big change, because of the hours you got to put in. It's not only every day on the track, all year round almost, but you're also, after track practice, in the weight room. And then if you're not in the weight room, you're in the training room, getting work done. So the amount of hours you got to dedicate to a college sport compared to high school are almost double or triple, probably more nowadays, but-
Craig Mattick: Now, you did-
Tony Schwan: That was the biggest change.
Craig Mattick: Yeah, the number of hours put in, absolutely.
Tony Schwan: Yep.
Craig Mattick: You did get to run in Sioux Falls, at Howard Wood Track, again while at North Dakota State. What was that like, running at that old track again, that you had run a few times while you were at Aberdeen Central?
Tony Schwan: That was kind of fun, because I was pretty fortune in college. I ran on the relay team with two All-Americans and two hall of famers up at NDSU, Marcus Johnson and Allen Barell. And I believe, and maybe I'm wrong, I think Allen Barell still has the Howard 100 and 200 collegiate records. So I was on his team for that meet, and it was kind of fun back then, racing locally against USD and SDSU in the four by one, so...
Craig Mattick: Well, you know, the colleges don't run at Howard Wood anymore, for the-
Tony Schwan: Yeah, I know. I heard that.
Craig Mattick: ... Howard Wood Dakota Relays, mainly because of their conference meets are so close.
Tony Schwan: Yeah.
Craig Mattick: That's too bad.
Tony Schwan: It was different back then, but-
Craig Mattick: Overall, how would you compare your track career in college?
Tony Schwan: You know, I liked it. I ran with a bunch of really, really fast guys, and gals too, that a few of them ended up going on pro. Some people, I ran with, got tried out for the Olympics and stuff, so that was pretty cool. And at NDSU, we were pretty fortunate of flying around to big meets, so every other weekend, you'd get to fly and run down to the Miami Relays, Texas Relays, and stuff, so-
Craig Mattick: Oh, nice.
Tony Schwan: ... it was a pretty cool experience, and so you got to ran against these guys, and a few against these guys, and so...
Craig Mattick: You majored in manufacturing engineering. What is that? Help me out.
Tony Schwan: Ah, it's an engineering, you know, where you got to make stuff. You actually got to make something, so I got a job. We had some factories here in Aberdeen. I always wanted to come back to Aberdeen, so I worked at Hub City Incorporated, which is a manufacturing plant that shut down now, but we made gearboxes, is what we did, designed and built gears, so that's the engineering I went into, because I knew I kind of wanted to get a job in Aberdeen, and we had quite a bit of manufacturing options here, so...
Craig Mattick: So when did the family start?
Tony Schwan: Right out of college, I'd say.
Craig Mattick: Mm-hmm?
Tony Schwan: Within a few years, got married. I went to high school with my wife, Katelyn Schwan. Her maiden name was Rot, but she actually lives over at Mina Lake, or did live at Mina Lake, but we both went to Central together, but believe it or not, she actually went to school up at UND, so I'm kind of outnumbered, actually.
Craig Mattick: Wow.
Tony Schwan: She's UND, My sister's UND, and my brother-in-law is UND, so they got me beat three to one.
Craig Mattick: Oh, so when UND and NDSU are playing against each other, it's quite the household, at least for the particular game.
Tony Schwan: yeah. Yeah, I get to hear about it. I also hear how good their hockey team is all the time.
Craig Mattick: Oh, yeah. Sure, yeah. Yeah, but yeah, how many football championships have they won, right?
Tony Schwan: That's right, that's right.
Craig Mattick: You come with that.
Tony Schwan: They don't want to talk about that.
Craig Mattick: You have two daughters and a son. How involved are they in any sports right now?
Tony Schwan: You know, they're just bouncing around. I try to keep them as active as I can in many sports, so like my son, he's in taekwondo now. He's also taking swimming lessons. And then my daughter will start softball coming up here soon. And my other daughter's in dance right now, so I just try to keep them active with something.
Craig Mattick: You have not, though, really hung up your running shoes. I understand that you've been involved with several state and national triathlons. Is that true?
Tony Schwan: Yeah. Yeah, which-
Craig Mattick: When did that start?
Tony Schwan: It started in 2009, and my god, if you... If someone's hearing this now that knew me 20 years ago, they wouldn't believe it, because I was a sprinter sprinter, which means I didn't even like doing the warmup lap, you know? The half-mile warmup you had to do. But now, I run for miles and miles and miles. So I started in '09. There was a local triathlon here in Aberdeen, called the Wolves Tri, that they put on to raise money. And I just fell in love with it, even though I'm actually not a very good endurance athlete, you know? Believe it or not, all those years of sprinting. So I got into that, and now, I just... That's kind of my hobby, is swimming, biking, and running.
Craig Mattick: So what happens in those triathlons? Explain the distances you're dealing in a triathlon.
Tony Schwan: Oh, god. Well, like a local one, they usually call them sprint tris, so you'll swim, usually a quarter mile to a half-mile, get out, get on a bike as fast as you can, and bike anywhere between a distance of 12 miles and 24 miles, and then get off and run, either a 5K or a 10K. But now, I'm starting to get into the longer distances, the Ironmans, which is a whole nother ball game, a lot more training. And those are you swim 2.4 miles, you get out of the water, onto a bike for 112, and then off the 112 bike to a 26.2 marathon.
Craig Mattick: Oh. There's a lot of training that goes along with that.
Tony Schwan: Yes.
Craig Mattick: Have you had any coaching advice, now that you've gotten into these triathlons?
Tony Schwan: I've gotten a lot of advice from people. I actually do have a coach. He doesn't live here, but he kind of sets my training plan. And all it's just kind of like high school. All I got to do is execute. He tells me what to do. I just do it.
Craig Mattick: So you're swimming, running, and/or biking before you go to work, or it's all after work?
Tony Schwan: Both, I'll say.
Craig Mattick: Oh my.
Tony Schwan: It depends on what coach loads me up for. A lot of times, I can get it in after work. Sometimes, I'll do before and after, but usually, if he's going to put a bunch of hours on, for like a six- or seven-hour bike ride or something, he'll put that on the weekend.
Craig Mattick: Most memorable place you've done a triathlon so far?
Tony Schwan: Oh god. I would say Tempe, Arizona. I like that one the best. I'm actually going to go back there in November. I'd say that one's the best. The other one would probably be at USA Nationals in Omaha. That was pretty fun too, but I really like Arizona, so... They got good weather.
Craig Mattick: What keeps you busy today? What are you doing?
Tony Schwan: The plant closed down, so now I work for Indian Health Services Agency, the federal government, as a facility engineer, so it's pretty cool. Work on projects and designs for hospitals.
Craig Mattick: Still in Aberdeen? Lifetime-
Tony Schwan: Still in Aberdeen.
Craig Mattick: ... Aberdeen Central Golden Eagle.
Tony Schwan: Yep.
Craig Mattick: Are there any other athletic achievements that is on your bucket list?
Tony Schwan: Yeah, to qualify for Kona someday, which is the Ironman world championship, so that's kind of my vision. Right now, I'm a long ways off, but I'll get there some day.
Craig Mattick: Does it surprise you that now, after all these years, even out of high school, that you're still active? I mean, it takes a lot to train for events, and boy, you've taken it to the next level. Are you kind of surprised at where you're at today when it comes to your athletic ability?
Tony Schwan: I'm surprised I'm doing endurance events and actually enjoying it, but I'm not surprised that I'm staying active. I always got to... I just can't sit still and just not do something competitive. So I was eventually going to do something after my college career. I just didn't know what, and I ended up loving this, so this is kind of what I do now. I take it pretty seriously. It's pretty much my full-time hobby after work, so...
Craig Mattick: Well look-
Tony Schwan: And it's fun too. There's a lot of good triathletes in the state, and you get to see them every month in the summer, and it's pretty cool.
Craig Mattick: And if you didn't get involved with track in high school, you probably wouldn't be doing what you're doing today, right?
Tony Schwan: No, probably not. That kind of set the tone of level of expectations, and what you can do, and how to set a plan and execute it, but yeah, that's really kind of what got me started anything running. Maybe I just went to an endurance event because I slowed down as I got older, so I just had to run further. I don't know. That's probably what happened. I just don't want to admit it.
Craig Mattick: Last one for you, Tony. Best advice you got from a coach at Aberdeen Central.
Tony Schwan: Oh, man. The best advice? That's a hard one.
Craig Mattick: Could have been football, could have been hockey, could have been track and field.
Tony Schwan: Yeah, I got a good one. Coach Hughes, sometimes, we'd get frustrated and drop the baton in practice, and didn't execute, and all he'd... He'd just tell us, "Just be an athlete." And for some reason, that would just take the nerves away, and all of a sudden, you did it. It's like he just reminds you to just stop thinking, be an athlete. Be an athlete. And then it would just somehow kick in a reflex, and all of a sudden, you executed it, after you were just getting done being frustrated not executing it.
Craig Mattick: I got one more. One just came up. While you're doing the triathlon, whether you're doing the biking, the swimming, or the running, what are you thinking about? What is going through your mind in those long distances? What are you thinking about?
Tony Schwan: So you actually got to be thinking about a lot. Nutrition. Nutrition is big. You have to be constantly taking in your fluids and eating your carbs, and if you're not thinking about it and you're not doing it, you will pay for it, so you got to... It's really a fourth discipline, and you end up learning that sometimes the hard way, by not finishing a race. So I'm just constantly thinking about, "Am I eating enough? Am I drinking enough? Am I pushing the right power? Is my heart rate too high?" I'll say this, there's a lot more thinking in that than there is 10 seconds of sprinting. You really can't think at all.
Craig Mattick: If you like what you're hearing, please give us a five-star review wherever you get your podcasts. Programs such as this are only possible through the continued support of our listeners, like you. For South Dakota Public Broadcasting, I'm Craig Mattick. Join us again on the next episode of In Play.