When you name the most influential people in disc golf, especially in Europe, it is easy to name the big names of today. The disc golf world we’re able to live in today is thanks in part to the work put in by many before them.
Anders Swärd is one of those who has been around the sport for years and has not only competed at the highest level, but he has helped the sport grow from the unknown to what it is today. He is still at it after 30 years, with his 2016 European Championship in Masters division and 2017 Swedish Championship he isn't showing any signs of stopping.
We talked with the 5-time Swedish Champion & the current Masters division European Champion about his life in and around disc golf and what he has planned for the season ahead.
Who is Anders Swärd when he is not playing disc golf?
First of all I try take to care of my family. The whole family is somehow into sports. I play table tennis in the winter. Our two boys play too; one plays table tennis, the other one floorball and football. My partner Susanne and I are into it as youth coaches, me in table tennis and Susanne in floorball. Most weekends are spent in some kind of sport centre, watching our children play. So no big problems in trying to think of how to spend time in our family. And then there’s the small detail of 40-hour work weeks.
When did you start playing disc golf? How did you get introduced to the sport?
I guess it happened late in the 80s… My brother Stefan and his friends were playing in the forest and the playground behind my parent’s house. It all started there. We built the course and worked on it. The course is still there today and my parents still live there too. It’s perfect to stop there for a coffee and a chat with them before or after the round.
Swärd is known for exceptionally well controlled low line shots. Photo: Eino Ansio
Did it take long for you to start competing?
At the very beginning - this was before internet - the knowledge about tournaments wasn’t that readily available. But somehow we managed to read about the Swedish tour and we decided to try our wings. First tournament was in Lund in 1992. You could even say that it was a long time ago.
What’s the best thing about disc golf for you? Is it still the same thing as it was 10, or even 20, years ago or has it changed?
It’s interesting and so different. The first tournament in the Swedish tour during the early 90s was probably 30 players in total. I've seen seen a great development, not only in the number of players, but in the sport in general. So many people have ideas that they want to work and they are willing to work for the sport. One of the most notable changes is that today people know what disc golf is - you don't have to explain what the sport is any more. I could write a masters thesis on this subject.
What’s your most memorable moment in disc golf?
I’ve been asked this question many times and it’s always really difficult to answer. What to pick from more than 25 years of competing…? Of course there’s my field-ace from Oulu that many have seen, it was a lucky shot that saved me a lot of strokes and in the end gave me the European Championship in the masters division 2016. And then there are my Swedish championship titles, all of them are important to me. The first was special of course and the latest, which won’t be the last hopefully. Last year my family was there and my oldest son was my caddie. It was a very special feeling and it was also broadcasted at SVT play (Swedish national television streaming service). The cool thing here is that I won my first Swedish champion title in 1994 and the latest in 2017. There’s 23 years between those.
Swärd is looking to two-peat the European Champion's title in Croatia in August. Photo: Eino Ansio.
Are you otherwise active in disc golf?
Oh yes, we talk disc golf during the rounds when we play, both tactics and techniques. I’ve been a member of the board in our club since the beginning in 1993. I’m also part of the group in our club that is planning for a new course in Västervik. I’m one of the tournament organizers for our club. This year we held the Swedish Doubles Championships, for example. I competed in that event competing with my long time friend Jonas Hälleblad. I’m also involved in many other things that are not so fun to read about.
What do you look forward to most in 2018?
Easy to answer. Croatia EDGC. My son Simon is going to be my caddie. Otherwise I’m going to have fun and enjoy life.
Is there a specific Discmania disc that has helped you to reinvent your game?
When the PD came that was an important disc for me and also developed Discmania, I think. I also love the P2. I can always trust it and it suits my hand perfectly. It’s an approach disc in all ways and for all kinds of shots!