Sports

Quest ends in a world championship

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

It was a long, hard road for Federal Way’s Brad Swartz.

But the journey, which included losing close to 50 pounds in just three months, ended with Swartz winning his second title at the Masters World Championships in freestyle wrestling.

The event was held last month in the Czech Republic.

Swartz, 44, was representing the United States in the 167-pound division for 41- to 45-year-old wrestlers.

“It was a great experience,” he said.

Swartz downed Hungary’s Gioso Lakota in the final match by a score of 2-1 in sudden-death overtime. The bout ended when he threw Lakota off the mat from the clenched position. Lakota was the defending two-time world champion and hadn’t wrestled past the first round in his previous three matches. Lakota had also beaten Swartz 4-0 back in 1999.

“I knew this it was going to be a battle,” said Kirk White, Swartz’s coach and also a coach at Highline Community College. “I knew Brad would be tested.”

In the Czech Republic, Swartz won all four of his matches during the world championships.

He beat a wrestler from Poland in his opener, decisioned a 2003 silver medalist from Germany next and downed a two-time world champion, also from Germany, in the semifinals to earn the matchup with Lakota in the final.

Swartz’s first master’s wrestling title was in 2001, which came 20 years after he was an NCAA All-American wrestler at Oregon State University in the early 1980s.

“This was a much tougher tournament than the one Brad won in 2001,” White said. “He was better prepared and has actually increased his wrestling skills to the point they are the best ever for him.”

But getting to that level wasn’t easy. Before leaving for Hungary, Swartz was forced to lose 48 pounds in 90 days. After winning the 2001 tournament he took a break from wrestling and began pursuing another dream of opening his own fitness center, which happened earlier this year.

Swartz’s Vision Quest Sports and Fitness opened its doors in January inside the SuperMall in Auburn. It features three full-sized wrestling mats and 40,000 square feet of weights, cardiovascular equipment and physical therapy capabilities, among other things.

Before the club’s opening, Swartz’s weight increased to 215 pounds while working 60-hour weeks, he said.

“I was not happy being out of shape, especially owning a fitness club,” Swartz said. “I wanted to feel young and look young.”

So he started a workout regimen that included wrestling and cardiovascular work five days a week and got back to eating better.

“I want people to look at me and be inspired,” Swartz said. “I want them to realize that a 44-year-old, 5-foot-7, 215-pound guy can change his habits, surround himself in a positive environment and achieve outstanding results, so can they.”

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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