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Redirected success

Near-tragic accident alters Centurion’s path

Posted: March 26, 2009 1:45 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus senior Daniel Swarbrick has won over 25 medals in his dominant shot put and discuss throwing career. But that career may never have taken place.

 
An eight-year-old Daniel Swarbrick awoke in a hospital bed, having just suffered a concussion after being struck by a car.

His friend had ridden her bike into the street, and he followed on rollerblades. But those memories were as blurry as his vision at the time.

Last spring at the CIF Track and Field Championships, Swarbrick’s vision was blurry again – only this time, it was disbelief.

He simply couldn’t believe how far he’d just thrown the shot put.

“I had to recount the lines to make sure it was what I thought I was,” Swarbrick says of his throw, which earned him a CIF-Southern Section title at 59-11 1/2. “The guys I was throwing against weren’t even mad. They were just like, ‘If you’re going to do it, that’s the time to do it.’”

It’s arguable that Swarbrick, now a senior at Saugus, wouldn’t have had the chance had he not been in the car accident.

Swarbrick played several sports when he was younger, including soccer, baseball, basketball and flag football. Given his size and frame, the gridiron seemed like the perfect destination for Swarbrick’s talents.

But football was not in the cards.

“My parents made that decision for me,” he says. “I didn’t really think about (playing football) until last year. I’m glad that they did.”

Swarbrick considered playing football for Saugus last season, and ultimately decided that his future in track and field was too bright.

“I felt I could go farther in track than I could in football,” he says. “Would I have liked to play high school football? Yeah. But would I have been as good (at track and field) as I am now? No way.”

Swarbrick has been dominant so far this season.

His throw of 59-7 in the shot put at the Don Green Invitational on March 7 is almost 12 feet better than the next-best mark by a Foothill League participant, and his top discus throw is more than 34 feet longer.

His personal record of 181-8 in the discus was also recorded at the state meet last year, and Saugus coach Christian Standley believes it’s a by-product of his competitive nature.

“The great thing about Daniel is he really truly thrives against competition,” Standley says. “His best mark will come out when he’s competing against the top competition.”

Swarbrick has some top competition in his own family. His brother Matt holds the school record in the discus at 190-10 and received a scholarship to UC Davis after graduating from Saugus in 2005.

Having played football his freshman year in addition to throwing, Matt understands how valuable the extra practice time has been for his brother.

“In the offseason for football, you’re always lifting,” Matt says. “I was doing two-a-days, lifting for football in the morning and lifting for track in the afternoon. The (accident) has allowed him not to worry about offseason commitments.”

That singular focus helped Swarbrick become one of the state’s premiere performers in one of track’s more thankless events.

The training regimen for throwers involves hours of working out and practicing every day for an event that takes only a few seconds.   

“I think shot put and discus are highly overlooked,” says Swarbrick, who also high jumps. “I think people think it’s easier than it looks. I do what I can for the team.”

Matt has seen that work ethic for years.

“I’ve always seen it in him, but what he has done in the last two years, he’s really focused that mentality into two events,” Matt says. “Now that he’s just doing track, he can focus those abilities and reap the rewards from focusing on those two events.”

The rewards may soon include a full scholarship to Iowa State University. Swarbrick currently has a 90 percent scholarship, and he needs to throw 200 feet in the discus and 65 feet in shot put to earn a full ride.

Those are two of his four goals.

The other two? Go undefeated and win a state championship in both events.

As he pursues those goals, Swarbrick is enjoying the time with his Centurion teammates.

“The guys have always been so good,” he says. “It’s ridiculous how funny things get. After you’re done lifting and you’re sitting around doing core (exercises), there’s a point where you’re so tired that everything you say is hilarious. We have a blast.”

Even with all he’s been through, that’s just Swarbrick’s personality.

“He’s not one of those athletes that gloats about his achievements,” Matt says. “His work ethic comes out of his personality, and he’s the kind of person you always want to be around.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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