Speedy Swart, MVHS’s Record Setting Runner


Remy Merrill

Junior Laura Swart crosses the finish line in 19:48 at the Solon Invitational Sept. 20.

Remy Merrill

“When I’m racing my mind goes blank,” junior Laura Swart said. Swart is Mount Vernon High School’s  fastest female Cross Country runner. Now in her third season of high school cross country Laura has already broken the MV 5K time for girls, finishing in 19:21. 

As a determined runner, Laura keeps many goals in mind throughout the season. At the beginning of this season Swart set a goal to run a sub-20 5k. In order to finish under 20 minutes she needed to keep an average mile pace of 6:26.  Laura ran her sub-20 5K at the second meet of the season at the Cedar Rapids Invitational. “Another goal would be to get top 15 at state and for the team to get top 15,” Swart said. 

So, how does she do it? On the way to every meet Swart listens to her pump up music, Eminem. “One specific song I listen to is Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself,’” Swart said. 

With motivation from Eminem and keeping herself accountable, Laura has no off-season. On the weekends Laura tries to go for “one slow run,” Swart said.  In the fall Swart runs cross country, in the winter she plays varsity basketball, in the spring she runs track and in the summer she runs the cross country 250 mile training plan.  

Swart started long distance running in sixth grade, but started her cross country career in seventh grade with coach Abby Bock. Even all the way back in middle school Coach Bock recognized Swart’s strength. “You couldn’t tell by her demeanor, but she was secretly a competitive runner,” said Bock “She set personal goals for herself and worked her tail off trying to achieve them.” 

But Swart isn’t just a running machine like she seems; she’s had to overcome challenges and injuries throughout her running career. Swart said, “During track I had nerve damage in my calves, and that hurt really bad, but the adrenaline kind of got me through it.”

Swart is a natural competitor, during a race she keeps her mind and eyes on the prize. “I just try to think of passing as many people as possible, how much of the race I have left, how much I need to speed up and just trying to get to the finish line,” Swart said. 

Swart has always known the recipe for a ‘good sport’. Her competitive yet respectful nature has put her ahead since middle school. “While she stood out on our team as a phenomenal runner, with many successes, Laura wanted to stay under the radar. She wasn’t on the team to prove to be better than anyone else, or shine brighter than them; she was there to accomplish her goals as an athlete and support her team,” said Coach Bock. 

“Not only is she fast, but she pushes everyone every day to work harder,” said Anna Hoffman. She and Swart  have been running buddies for the last couple of years on the cross country team. Laura is not only an incredible runner and determined competitor but a  “teammate that anyone would want to have on their team,” Hoffman said. 

Swart’s coach, Kory Swart, doubles as her dad. “Having my dad as a coach makes me less nervous,” Swart said. 

 “She’s been very easy to coach, even though it’s not very easy to be coached by your dad,” Coach Swart said. “I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to coach Laura and am proud of what she’s been able to accomplish.”