‘Family’ Reunion: Swan Qualifies for Sixth Nationals
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It is a proven recipe to make commercial drivers win at safety tournaments.
At his state competition in June, Colorado’s Paul Swan of FedEx Freight understood how to navigate an intricate course — in rainy weather — while maintaining his focus on mastering the event’s challenges. The key ingredient for his success: preparation.
“I just go over everything in my head constantly. And I’m super dedicated to doing the right thing on a daily basis, not to mention in the Roadeo,” said Swan, emphasizing a strategy that helped him advance to the national event. “I will always put in my best effort. So I just prepare myself.”
As this year’s Centennial State grand champion, Swan punched his ticket to a sixth trip to American Trucking Associations' National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships. The precision-driving “Super Bowl of Safety,” as it is known, will be held in mid-August in Columbus, Ohio.
Getting to Know You
Name: Paul Swan
Company: FedEx Freight
Favorite Food: Deep-dish pizza
Last TV Show You Watched: “Quarterback” on Netflix
All-time Favorite Vacation: Golf resort in Nevada
Sports Hero: Retired NFL quarterback Drew Brees
When Do You Practice for NTDC: Saturday mornings
What Do You Tell Yourself Before Driving at NTDC: “Seat belt. Mirrors. Focus.”
Something People Don’t Know About You: “I was actually an amateur diver; springboard diver. And I was competing to try to get into the Olympic trials when I was 17 years old. And I missed it by about four spots.”
Operating in the 3-axle, Swan said he is most comfortable in the vehicle class regardless of weather conditions.
“I do enjoy the 3-axle. It’s what I normally do probably 70% of the time at my job. It is a little bit, I think, a little bit harder class to win just because it’s a little bit smaller vehicle; a little bit easier to maneuver,” Swan explained.
“But I think with the dedication and the practice that I put in on my weekends on my time, I prepare myself pretty well for it,” he added.
Returning to nationals will feel similar to a family reunion for many competitors. More than 400 women and men have qualified for the summer classic.
Swan looks forward to connecting with like-minded colleagues.
As he put it, “It’s almost like you’re visiting family members that you get to see once a year. You know, it’s just really good camaraderie, not only with our FedEx people [FedEx Freight drivers captured eight of the nine classes], with other companies.
“You know, we see the same handful of people every year, and it’s good to see them again. And it’s, you know, it’s just like visiting a family member. These same guys keep going year after year after year.”
Swan added, “That’s dedication to being safe. So it’s great to see these people — sure there is a competition, and we’re all involved in it — but I think it’s more like visiting your family you get to see once a year.”
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level who have advanced to the national competition, where a Grand Champion will be crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written exam, pre-trip inspection and driving skills
When: Aug. 16-19
Where: Columbus, Ohio
Other Colorado winners:
• 4-Axle: Mark Lannerd, XPO
• 5-Axle: Nick Gaudette, FedEx Freight
• Flatbed: David Van Kirk III, FedEx Freight
• Sleeper Berth: Tyler Rogers, FedEx Freight
• Step Van: Steve Johnson, FedEx Freight
• Straight Truck: Ryan Snyder, Fed Ex Freight
• Tank Truck: David Mogler, FedEx Freight
• Twins: Todd Flippin, FedEx Freight
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