swenson ken
Ken Swenson
  • Undefeated in the 880 both indoors and outdoors while a senior at Clay Center Community High School
  • In 1970, Swenson ranked first at 800 meters among U.S. runners by Track and Field News
  • A four-time All-American, anchored a pair of NCAA champion relay teams and was the 1970 NCAA Outdoor champion at the half-mile
  • Also a member of the Drake Relays Hall of Fame and the K-State Sports Hall of Fame
Swenson, Ken
Inducted 2009

Born: April 18, 1948 – Clay Center, Kansas

Graduated: Clay Center Community H.S., 1966; Kansas State University, 1970

Overview

In a state known for its great middle-distance runners, Kenneth Lloyd Swenson of Clay Center, Kansas, was one of the best. Swenson was a 1972 Olympian in the 880-yard run and a former American record holder with a time of 1:44.8.  A three-time Big Eight champion in the 880, Swenson anchored four K-State relay teams to world records, two NCAA championships, and one American record.

High School Achievements

While a senior at Clay Center Community High School in 1966, Swenson was undefeated in the 880 both indoors and outdoors. He still holds the Clay Center High School record of 1:55.8. He had the fourth-fastest 880 time in history in 1970 with his 1:44.8 clocking.

College and International Career

Despite being recruited by just a handful of colleges, Swenson became one of the country’s top half-milers. In 1970, Swenson ranked first at 800 meters among U.S. runners by Track and Field News and in 1971 and 1972 he was ranked third.  Swenson was part of one of the greatest 800-meter races of all-time during the 1972 Olympic Trials when he edged former college rival Jim Ryun at the tape to qualify for the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. While running at Kansas State from 1966-70, Swenson was a three-time 880-yard champion in the Big Eight Conference. He was a four-time All-American, anchored a pair of NCAA champion relay teams and was the 1970 NCAA Outdoor champion at the half-mile.

Honors

Swenson was inducted into the Drake Relays Hall of Fame in 1980 and is also a member of the K-State Sports Hall of Fame.

 

Click here to see Ken's Kansas Sports Hall of Fame induction speech