A pulled hamstring as a freshman on the North Texas track and field team in 1961 cut Floyd Eddy Swanzy's ('66) athletic career short -- until four years ago, when the then 69-year-old began competing in the Senior Games circuit. He read stories about Adolf Hoffman, an athlete then in his 80s who was clearing 8 feet on the pole vault. Swanzy knew he could do that.
"It was a life-long dream of mine to be a pole vaulter," he says.
And in July, he will be one of 12,000 athletes older than 50 to compete in the 2015 National Senior Games in St. Paul, Minn. He qualified in his top event, the pole vault, as well as in the high jump, long jump, triple jump, javelin, 50m and the shot put, events he competed in for fun.
Despite his injury at North Texas, he continued to practice with the team under coach Winton "Pop" Noah. A Sigma Nu, Swanzy studied physical education and biology and took a job teaching biology and physical science at South Garland High School and serving as an assistant track coach. Later, he worked as a pharmaceutical representative for Parke-Davis and as a lighting consultant as the owner of a retail lighting store.
Swanzy's daily workout routine includes machines at the gym in the mornings and sprints and distance running at the high school stadium -- where the Springtown Porcupines play -- in the afternoons. He also has a vaulting coach in Keller who helps him with his technique. A self-proclaimed multisport enthusiast, Swanzy and his wife support all the high school athletic events in Springtown.
"He's a hero in our town," says Margaret Newby Swanzy ('64), who studied health education and played basketball as a student. "They think he's something because he's now 73 and doing all this."
At the 2013 National Senior Games in Cleveland, Ohio, Swanzy came in fifth in the nation with a jump of 9 feet. This year he hopes to medal.
"If I do my 9, 9-6 or maybe 10 feet, I can," he says adding that he recommends the Senior Games for all those who wish to be an athlete and accomplish their goals. "There is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."