Minnesota Duluth senior wing Nick Swaney is a two-time NCAA champion with the Bulldogs and 2017 seventh-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild.
But did you also know the Bulldogs’ assistant captain once held the record for the fastest McGuire Mile time — “a little bit under six minutes” — at McGuire Middle School in Lakeville, Minnesota? His time of 5 minutes and 55 seconds in sixth grade in 2010 currently sits fifth all-time.
Long before hockey became a full-time gig for Swaney, he was quite the multi-sport athlete in Lakeville and making a name for himself in Mrs. Anderson’s physical education classes.
Mrs. Anderson is Tammy Anderson, the mother of Bulldogs senior defenseman Matt Anderson, though at that time Swaney’s only relationship to his future UMD teammate and roommate was through his teacher’s stories.
“She would always talk about Matty in class and I was like, ‘Who is this guy she is talking about?’” said Swaney, who joined News Tribune college hockey writer Matt Wellens and the voice of Bulldogs hockey on My 9 Sports, Zach Schneider, on the Bulldog Insider Podcast this week.
Below are edited excerpts from this week’s episode, which also covers Swaney’s relationship with the Wild and what could be next for the Bulldogs senior — who has another year of NCAA eligibility remaining — after this season. Produced by award-winning News Tribune multimedia producer Samantha Erkkila, you can catch the full episode of this week's Bulldog Insider at DuluthNewsTribune.com, TheRinkLive.com and on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Tammy Anderson was on Bulldog Insider at the end of last season after the pandemic shut everything down. She described you as a funny kid. What made you so funny in middle school?
I don’t know, probably just me and my buddies messing around in gym class. I always was one of those guys, the tryhard, in gym class. The competitor in me, I always loved winning. She probably liked that side of me.
Besides hockey, what were your other sports growing up?
I pretty much played everything growing up. When I was younger, I played soccer for a few years, football for a few years; but then my two major sports were baseball and hockey. Once I got to high school with the end of the season, doing all the advanced programs and everything for hockey, I quit baseball and I actually played on the tennis team for two years. I think that it’s a huge thing playing as many sports as you can growing up, especially in the summer too being a hockey player and getting away from the rink a little bit and doing different things. I look back at those baseball tournaments I had. Those were some of the best times playing sports. Playing baseball is probably my second favorite sport; golf, though too. I love golfing now.
What were your goals back in Mrs. Anderson’s class in middle school? Was winning national championships in college and being an NHL draft pick even on your radar?
Everybody growing up, especially playing hockey, has that dream of making it to the NHL. I think that's everybody's goal as a kid, but to be completely honest, I really didn't think of that too much until I started to get to high school and when the USHL draft started. Back then I just was having fun and playing a game that I loved. That's one thing, I think a lot of kids you see nowadays, they get so caught up in, ‘Oh, I need to go to this camp and impress these scouts and do all this.’ But when you're younger, it's a time you got to have fun and enjoy it because that's really all you can do. So for me, I didn't really start thinking about that until high school once it got more serious and colleges could recruit and stuff. For sure it’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NHL and play college hockey. It's been pretty special being able to live out some of the dreams that I had as a kid.
Did you start thinking about college hockey and find UMD, or did UMD or another school spark your interest in college hockey?
“It kind of started once UMD talked to me. That's the first interaction I actually had with a college coach and literally right from the start, I kind of fell in love with the coaches and the campus once I came on my visit up here. Everything kind of just fell into place. Obviously, it's really paid off and I'm super happy that I'm here and everything. Actually Derek Plante — it’s pretty crazy — was the original recruiter for me and then he left. Now it's come full circle and he's back. It's pretty cool.
It seems players have a special connection with the coach that makes first contact with them. Is that the case with you and Plante?
Yeah, it was. I still remember that first conversation today because I was a sophomore in high school. Based on the rules, they can't come and directly make contact with me. I knew he was there and my coach at the time told me that I needed to go up and introduce myself. So I was super scared to go just introduce myself to a Division I college hockey coach, but I went up there and talked to him. I'll always remember that conversation at St. Thomas Ice Arena. It was pretty cool.”