Xander Swann ’25, from Atlanta, is running in his first season on the men’s track and field team. In this installment of “Seven Questions,” Swann discusses his introduction to hurdling, his journey to collegiate track and his favorite meal at Middlebury.
Owen Park: Growing up, was track your main sport?
Xander Swann: Not initially. The first sport I seriously played was soccer. I remember playing defense and always being one of the faster kids on the field. Technically, I wasn’t super skilled — my play style was mostly me running up to the ball and kicking it as hard as I could. I dropped soccer in fifth grade and started to run track and cross-country in middle school.
OP: What made you decide to run hurdles?
XS: Nothing in particular. I tried a lot of different events before I settled on hurdles. During track meets, I was always really impressed when watching hurdlers — the whole event was really entertaining to watch. I always knew that I was better at jumping than a lot of other kids on the team. One of the first events I consistently did was the long jump. I also was better at sprinting than I was at cross-country, which definitely pushed me to commit to a shorter event.
OP: Were you always aiming to run track in college?
XS: It wasn’t really a serious thought until sophomore year. I have to give credit to Justice, a senior on my school’s track team, for seriously making me consider competing at the collegiate level. She was an unofficial leader on the team and ended up committing to a D-I program, which got me to start thinking about the possibility of running in college. I wasn’t performing that well during my freshman year, so I worked really hard between seasons to put myself in a better position to be recruited. I kept this up through the end of my high school career — now I’m here.
OP: Do you have any pre-meet rituals?
XS: I like to keep everything pretty simple, just to cover all of the essentials. The night before a meet, I make sure to get a good night’s sleep, eat whole foods and stay hydrated. Before the meet I’ll walk through a stretching routine with the team as well as one on my own that I’ve done since high school. I like to do dynamic [stretches] and striders to physically warm up as well.
OP: What’s your favorite part of being on the track team?
XS: The community. A few days ago, one of my teammates asked me out of the blue if I wanted to go ice fishing and we ended up going a day or so afterwards. I find that a lot of people are really open to hanging out with you and everyone else just to have a good time. It feels really great to be surrounded by a group of guys you’re really close with.
OP: What are some of your favorite or least favorite drills to do?
XS: I’d have to say 400-meter repeats — those are really brutal. We have to complete a lap around the track as fast as we can with only a few seconds of rest in between reps, and it’s super tiring. One of the few times I did this workout was during parents weekend. I didn’t know it at the time, but my brothers were watching me run them. In high school, we did 200-meter repeats on a gravel track at a local park during preseason. Both drills are meant to build your endurance, get your muscles used to not having a lot of oxygen and being able to operate at a high level in that state. They’re really helpful, but are still a pain to do.
OP: What’s your favorite meal from Proctor?
XS: Hands down, the black pepper tofu with rice. The sauce for the tofu is absolutely stellar, and I’ll usually get it over any meat that they’re serving. It’s the one dish that I know I can always count on to be amazing whenever it's served.