More footsteps followed in Tiger girls track

Sam Swedzinski shares love of running with mom

Lisa and Samantha Swedzinski, pictured at their home in Baldwin Township, share a running bond. Samantha is an eighth-grade distance runner on this year’s Tiger girls track team.  Photos by Greg Hunt

Lisa and Samantha Swedzinski, pictured at their home in Baldwin Township, share a running bond. Samantha is an eighth-grade distance runner on this year’s Tiger girls track team. Photos by Greg Hunt

Along with the Bonaseras, another fun mother/daughter story is developing on the Tiger girls track and field team. The event is long-distance running, and Lisa Swedzinski is seeing daughter Samantha enjoy the sport that she excelled in at Princeton High.

Lisa Herman (her maiden name) ran both cross country and track. Back in her junior season in 1981, Herman set the Tiger girls’ record in the 3200-meter (two-mile) at 12:03.6 on the home track.

“I believe that race was later in the season on a beautiful day – very little wind. I had my family there encouraging me. I also had friends cheering us runners on that day,” recalled Lisa, now a first-grade teacher at South Elementary. “A memory of first starting out in running was I couldn’t even make it once around the track. But I had my cousins, Julie and Wanda Zabel, who always helped me with their ‘you can do it’ attitude.”

She continued, “Eventually, I could make it around the track multiple laps. Back then, I ran the 1600, 3200 and the mile relay for the track team. I spent a lot of time running around the country roads where we lived.”

The Swedzinskis second child, after son Chris, was Samantha. She is turning into a bundle of running energy in a small package. An eighth grader, Samantha moved up to the varsity cross country team last autumn along with seventh-grader Maddie Young. This spring, Samantha earned a spot on the varsity track team.

In the Tigers’ two outdoor meets so far, Samantha led the team in the 3200, dropping 15 seconds off her time to post a 12:36.2 time last Thursday. She is looking forward to warmer and less windy days to run this season.

Samantha and Lisa enjoy running together. At last year’s Rum River Festival, the two ran the 5K together and plan to do so again this June. One time – and apparently only one time – they ran with their border collie Aoife (pronounced “eefa” which is Irish Gaelic for “beautiful”).

“Can you get that dog to slow down?” Lisa recalled Sam saying. “But being a border collie, she always has to be in the lead, and she is a fast runner.”

“I get a lot of inspiration from my mom. Pushing me just by saying ‘good job,’ ‘you can do it,’ ‘stride on.’ She knows what I’m going through mentally and physically when I’m running,” Samantha said.

“We just found it’s really important to set goals. With Sam, we talk about split times, what time she would like to reach in the 3200, then just trying to improve that time each race,” Lisa said.

“Samantha once asked me, ‘Mom, do you think I can break your record?’ I said, ‘I know you can,’” Lisa answered. “Just that ‘I can do’ attitude is such an important part of growing up. To have goals, a relationship with parents and coaches and with fellow athletes. Having an outline of a plan to go through and a strong work ethic. We can work together and reach those goals with a positive attitude.”

“I think Coach Auel and Coach Ostroot have done such a marvelous job, making it fun to run,” finished Lisa. “For cross country, they created Saturday morning practices at homes. For the one we hosted, (husband) Marlo shot off his cannon to start the run. Then we had breakfast when they got back from the run, and the kids swam in the pool. It was really fun.”

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