Swain aims to lead Northwestern State to conference titles at SLC outdoor championships

COMMERCE, Texas—Throughout his career at Northwestern State, he has been a consistent threat on a deep sprints team. 

However, the one piece Dylan Swain has not been able to achieve is a team conference championship. 

Swain, along with his teammates, can accomplish that feat during the Southland Conference outdoor championships, which begin Thursday at Memorial Stadium on the campus of Texas A&M-Commerce. 

Thursday’s events start at noon with the combined events as well as the women’s hammer throw finals. All events lead to the 4×400 relay Saturday night, which was the event that cemented the first ever women’s indoor championship title in February. 

All three days will be streamed on ESPN+. 

Winning that elusive team title would top off a terrific career for the senior. 

“I don’t want to say a conference championship would be the icing on the cake because the icing is the finish,” Swain said. “I kind of want to say this would be the starting point. Last year, we were so close, but had our mishaps in the 4×100. 

“Last year, we were low-key broken-hearted after not winning the championship last year. At regionals, Simon (Wulff) and I had a talk and agreed we can’t have another year like last year. It is not the final piece, but it is definitely a piece that we’re missing.” 

Watching the women walk home from the SLC indoor championships with the team title, he was surprised the women didn’t tease his teammates about the title. 

“Our girls are very humble,” Swain said. “That is one of their best features. They could be popping their stuff, but they’re definitely not, even though I think they should. They are a good group of girls and they are very talented, so I feel like they should tease us more.” 

The senior helped the men to a second-place finish in the conference indoor championships, earning a silver medal in the 60-meters with a 6.70. 

Swain, whose nickname among his teammates is “Canman,” ranks in the top 10 in the SLC this outdoor season in both the 100-meters and 200-meters, the latter of which is third in the conference. 

“Dylan works really hard and when the lights shine, he shines very bright,” head coach Mike Heimerman said. “He deserves everything he has worked for this year.” 

He has improved as the season has gone along, posting personal bests in each of the past two meets. 

Canman posted the 200-meter mark of 20.73 last time out at the Michael Johnson Invitational at Baylor, and he trails just a pair of sprinters from host TAMUC in the event this season. 

Swain’s 100-meter dash ranks 10th in the SLC this season with a 10.39 at the Leon Johnson Invitational. 

“Dylan has really been more controlled in all the things he does since arriving at NSU,” sprints coach Adam Pennington said. “He has learned how to get out of the box correctly, controlling his fast-twitch muscles a little bit better.” 

He has also run a leg in the 4×100 relay team four times this season, including on the team that advanced to the finals at the Texas Relays with a time of 39.74. 

While he has had a productive career, the start could have been better. 

“I ran well at the start and while I had Division I offers in track, my grades held me back,” he said. “It’s cool, though, because I learned from it and it made me a better man.” 

That took him to Butler CC, where he turned it around, both on and off the track. On the track, Swain was a top 15 national finisher in the 100 (10.49, 15th) and 200 (11th, 21.13). He also ran a leg of the fourth-place 4×100 relay which clocked a 39.80. 

Those times improved once he arrived at NSU, so much that he made the 2022 NCAA East Prelims in the 200 after running a season-best 20.63 in the event at the NSU Leon Johnson Invitational. 

“It was a great experience to go to the prelims,” Swain said. “It prepared me for this year because I know the competition is like. I really train my body now and I stretch a lot more to prevent injuries. I am grateful for where I am at in the regional rankings, but I am not satisfied.” 

When looking to go back to Division I in track, he knew quickly what school he wanted to attend early on after talking to (sprints) Coach (Adam) Pennington. 

“Coach Pennington had me hooked like a fish,” Swain said. “He is like an older version of me. He had me hooked from the first phone call. I remember telling my mom that this was it. There was no need to visit. You know where home is when you feel it.” 

It didn’t take long for Swain to make an impact, running a leg on the 4×100 relay team in his first meet at Bobcat Invitational, placing third. The relay team matched the third-place finish the following meet at the Baylor Invitational. 

At the 2022 home meet, he placed in the top five in both the 100 and 200-meters. 

While on the track, he has made a name for himself, but quickly, he also learned how to be a leader from fellow track athletes. 

“Being around leaders has really helped me become a better leader,” Swain said. “I had a coach when I was young who always told me I was a natural leader. I never got what it meant until coming to NSU and thought ‘Oh, okay, I see it now.’ 

“People just naturally look to me for answers and for advice. Being around Destine (Scott), who is a great leader, and Simon, who is a quiet leader. When he gives instructions, people listen.” 

Now, he and fellow seniors lead a young group of sprinters on how to prepare for the conference outdoor championships, which is what the athletes have been aiming toward as a team since the season began. 

He has at least one more opportunity to run and compete with his teammates, to avenge the indoor season after coming in second. 

Swain has a chance to capture that ever-elusive conference outdoor championship, which begins Thursday.