The list of athletes who ran on Elmer Swanson’s teams over the 30 years he served as Wesleyan’s track and cross-country coach “reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ in elite running,” observed Hartford Courant Sports Columnist Lori Riley. She remembered Swanson, who died Aug. 12, at the age of 92, in an piece rich with comments from some of his well known—and fleet-footed —alumni.
Riley’s roundup notes: “He coached [Amby] Burfoot [’68], who won the Boston Marathon in 1968, his senior year, and went on to become the editor of Runners World magazine. He coached Bill Rodgers [’70], who won four Boston marathons and four New York City marathons and become one of the most recognizable runners in the world. He coached Jeff Galloway [’67], who ran the 10,000 meters in the 1972 Olympics and pioneered the Galloway Run-Walk-Run method, enabling many to start running and continue in the sport injury-free. He coached John Fixx [’83], son of Jim Fixx, who wrote the iconic “Complete Book of Running” during the height of the running boom in 1977. He coached Sebastian Junger [’84], who went on to become a filmmaker and author and wrote the best-seller The Perfect Storm (and also ran a 2:21 marathon).”
And, the praise from these runners for their college coach included these comments: Junger, in a Facebook post, recalled Swanson as “such a source of calmness and love.’ Burfoot called Swanson “a rock… a second father.” Galloway noted that “Elmer helped focus on that importance of running without making it overbearing,” and Fixx concurred: “Elmer’s runners seem to run longer after college, and continue to do better … It’s as though he paced his coaching so, in fact, our best years weren’t in college.”