McSwain chooses Nittany Lions
Christian McSwain faced a tough decision. After a number of his teammates left, leaving him by himself for two years, he had to decide if gymnastics — which he enjoyed and was good at — was really what he wanted to do.
It’s a tough decision, especially for a middle-schooler. But, in the end, McSwain, now a senior at Southwest Guilford and a gymnast at High Point Gymnastics, decided to stick with it. The decision paid off as he’s signed with NCAA Division I Penn State University.
“I really enjoyed it,” says McSwain, the son of Renee and Scott. “My dad kept telling me to stick with it and push through it, and my former coach said I could have a future in it. So, it’s extremely rewarding. It’s just been a major goal in my life.”
At 6 years old, McSwain took up gymnastics as a way to lead into Taekwondo, as well as burn off a little youthful energy — “I was hyper — climbing the walls and stuff,” he recalls with a laugh — and he’s continued to grow and improve over the years.
“It’s been a little bit challenging, but I really enjoy the sport,” he says. “I didn’t really ever think about giving up. I liked it so much. My teammates have always encouraged me and my coach is a great inspiration.”
Over the last several years, McSwain and Chandler Eggleston, his classmate and an Illinois signee, have been two of the top gymnasts for their age in the area, if not the country, and have pushed each other new heights.
“Both of them are very good athletes. And, like all athletes, they learn at different rates,” says Jim Shaw, boys team coach at High Point Gymnastics. “Christian excelled on pommel horse; Chandler excelled on floor and vault. It kind of goes back-and-forth.
“Once one learns, then they help each other and thrive on each other. Just learning new skills. … Christian is right there but just hasn’t broken through at the higher elite level. But the coaches at Penn State see this and know that a lot of his success will come in college.”
McSwain, who excels at the floor exercise and pommel horse, has qualified for nationals every year since 2008, as well as making the regional team last year and winning the state championship in the all-around in 2010.
So, after Penn State coach Randy Jepson saw him and offered him a scholarship late this summer, McSwain, who’d also narrowed his top choices to also include Oklahoma, decided to join the Nittany Lions, ranked No. 4 in the preseason national poll.
“I really enjoyed the team, I really liked the atmosphere, the campus was great and the academics are phenomenal. Altogether, I felt like it was the best fit for me,” McSwain says.
“It wasn’t that hard of a decision. I felt the connection immediately and I knew that Penn State was the place.”