|Born||April 18, 1948
Clay Center, Kansas
Kenneth Lloyd "Ken" Swenson (born April 18, 1948 in Clay Center, Kansas) is a retired middle-distance runner from the United States. Swenson was the world leader at 800 meters in 1970 and competed in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
Swenson, as a senior at Kansas State University, won the 880 yards in 1:46.3 at the 1970 NCAA outdoor championships. He also won at that year's national (AAU) championships, narrowly defeating Mark Winzenried as both were timed in 1:47.4. Swenson set his personal best for 800 meters, 1:44.8, on July 16, 1970 in Stuttgart in a dual meet between the United States and West Germany; the time was the fastest in the world that year and a new American record for the metric distance.[note 1] Track & Field News ranked Swenson the world's second-best half-miler that year, behind Yevgeniy Arzhanov of the Soviet Union.
In 1971 Swenson only placed third in the AAU outdoor meet (behind Juris Luzins and Jamaica's Byron Dyce); however, he won gold at the Pan American Games in Cali, running 1:48.08. At the 1972 Olympic Trials Swenson ran 1:45.1, his best time since 1970; he lost to Dave Wottle (who equaled the world record of 1:44.3) and Rick Wohlhuter, but took the third and final Olympic qualifying spot ahead of early leader Jim Ryun. At the Olympics in Munich Swenson qualified from his heat, but was disqualified in the semi-finals.
Swenson continued his career for several more years; in March 1975 he joined the International Track Association (ITA), a professional circuit.[note 2] Swenson set his personal best for the mile run, 3:59.1, in an ITA meet on May 3, 1975; he was the 75th American to run a four-minute mile.
- The previous record was Jim Ryun's 1:44.9 from 1966. Ryun's time had been set at 880 yards (804.672 m), and was worth about 1:44.3 for 800 m.
- At the time, track and field was primarily an amateur sport, and most athletes only received under-the-table money. Professional athletes were not allowed to compete in the Olympics or other amateur meetings.
- "Ken Swenson Bio, Stats and Results". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Hill, E. Garry. "A History of the NCAA Championships" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Mallon, Bill; Buchanan, Ian; Track & Field News. "A History Of The Results Of The National Track & Field Championships Of The USA From 1876 Through 2011". Track & Field News. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "UW's Winzenried Loses By Eyelash". Sheboygan Press. June 29, 1970. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
- "Winzenried Takes 4th, Sets Pace for Record". The Milwaukee Journal. July 17, 1970. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "Ken Swenson". Track and Field Statistics. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "USA Records Progression". Track and Field Statistics. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "World Rankings — Men’s 800" (PDF). Track & Field News. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- Hymans, Richard. "The History of the United States Olympic Trials – Track & Field" (PDF). USA Track & Field; Track & Field News. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "Ken Swenson Turns Pro". Mansfield News Journal. March 27, 1975. Retrieved July 6, 2015.
- "Chronological Listing of U.S. Milers Who Have Broken 4:00 in the Mile". Track & Field News. June 9, 2015. Retrieved July 6, 2015.