Swankie signed for Dundee after his contract at Arbroath ended having come through the youth ranks at Gayfield Park. He made 73 starts for Arbroath, as well as 32 substitute appearances, scoring seven goals. He returned to Arbroath on loan in January 2006 until the end of the season and then returned to Dundee, where he featured regularly over the next two seasons. On 1 May 2008, Swankie signed for Dundee's Tayside rivals St. Johnstone. He was released at the end of the 2009–10 season and signed for a third spell at Arbroath. He won the Third Division Player of the Year award for the 2010–11 campaign, and his goals helped Arbroath win their first senior league championship.