Since the age of 10, Pacific Union College freshman Spencer Swetnam dreamed of competing in the world championships of his favorite sport. On November 2, his dream came true as he traveled to Taipei-City, Taiwan to compete in the 2013 Artistic Roller Skating World Championships.
Swetnam and his partner Katelyn Rodgers represented the United States on the world stage in the team dance category. “The world championships are as high as the sport of artistic roller skating gets,” said Swetnam. “It is not in the Olympics for one main reason: Most people do not know about it.” Artistic roller skating is much like figure skating on ice, but with roller skates. The sport combines a careful balance of position, strength, and artistry in a single performance.
A 2013 graduate of Portland Adventist Academy, Swetnam spent much of his senior year traveling to Boston to meet with Rodgers as they prepared for the National Championship held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from July 21 to August 4, 2013. The pair competed in the Junior World Class Team Dance Division. This division requires three components: two compulsory dances with specific dances and steps, an original dance with a routine danced to a required genre of music, and the free dance which allows the skaters to dance to any song of their choice.
By placing first in the National Championships, Swetnam and his partner Rodgers qualified to compete in the Artistic Roller Skating World Championship.
Balancing rigorous training with the challenges of beginning college kept Swetnam and Rodgers from practicing together. “I was so nervous. Katelyn and I had a rough time practicing during the time we were in college before we left for the championships,” Swetnam explained. “Being freshmen and new to college, traveling across the Unites States twice a month was not going to work, especially first quarter.” Since beginning college at PUC in September, Swetnam has practiced alone at Foothills Adventist Elementary School in nearby St. Helena, Calif. On November 2, Swetnam left PUC and flew to Taiwan.
Once he stepped on the floor in Taiwan and began to skate, Swetnam said that he felt more relaxed than he though he would be. “I told myself that I knew what I knew and I practiced what I practiced and that all I could do was skate now.” Swetnam and Rodgers skated well. “We felt so good after,” he shared. “It is almost like the separation from each other helped us.”
Whether it was the solo skates in the Foothills Elementary gymnasium or the five days of training the pair did together before the start of the competition, Swetnam and Rodgers finished the World Championships by placing third. Swetnam could not be happier with the results. “The most exciting moment while being in Taiwan was making the podium and getting the bronze medal, along with a big plush duck!” Swetnam exclaimed. Ducks convey peace and happiness to the Taiwanese.
Swetnam has returned to PUC the proud bearer of a bronze medal. Balancing school and skating is still very hard, but “I know what my priorities are and school comes first,” he explained. A pre-physical therapy student, Swetnam hopes to work with children who need intensive physical therapy.