Lausanne, Switzerland


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Bart Swings (BEL) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (JPN) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

While Europe is suffering from the August heat, Bart Swings (BEL) is already looking forward to the winter. After having won three world titles and seven medals in total at the World Roller Games in Barcelona, the Belgian skating champion switched from wheels to blades by the end of July already.

Swings made a name for himself in inline skating at junior level already. The Belgian fought many battles in international inline skating competitions with Dutchman Koen Verweij, who was just one year his senior. When Swings saw Verweij competing at top level in ice skating at the Dutch national championships in 2010, he decided to have a crack at the ice too.

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Koen Verweij (NED) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2017©International Skating Union (ISU)

With inline skating not being Olympic, Speed Skating on ice handed Swings' an opportunity to chase his Olympic dream. In 2014 the Belgium first qualified for the Olympic Games in Sochi, after slowly having climbed to the top in ice skating in the previous four years.

Swings became national champion in December 2010 already and finished 19th in his first international competition, the ISU European Allround Speed Skating Championships in 2011. In the 2011-2012 season he slowly improved, and in the 2012-2013 season he was able to challenge the world's best speed skaters for the first time, winning bronze at the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Hamar, Norway.

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Bart Swings (BEL) at the ISU Wold Cup Speed Skating (GER) 2013©International Skating Union (ISU)

From the moment he started Speed Skating, Swings had always aimed at the 2018 Olympic Games, but on the eve of the 2014 Sochi Games, his results already made him an outsider for the medals. He skated four distances in Sochi and finished fourth in the 5000m, 23rd in the 1000m, tenth in the 1500m and fifth in the 10.000m.

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Bart Swings (BEL) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

In the post-Olympic season Swings took his first ISU World Cup Speed Skating medals in the mass start and the 10,000m. Coming from inline skating, Swings was happy with the mass start race format, a bunch start instead of the time trial formats in the other Speed Skating events.

Although Swings competed with the best in the world in the middle and longer distances in the years prior to the 2018 Pyeongchang Games – he took a silver medal at the 2016 European Games in Minsk – the mass start proved to be his best shot at Olympic glory. In Korea he finished six in the 1500m and in the 5000m and eighth in the 10.000m, before concluding the tournament winning silver behind home skater Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR) in the first ever Olympic mass start.

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Bart Swings (BEL), Seung-Hoon Lee (KOR) and Koen Verweij (NED) at the Olympic Winter Games 2018©Getty Images

Swings claimed Belgium's sixth medal at the Winter Games and the first since 1998, when Speed Skater Bart Veldkamp took bronze in the men's 5000m in Nagano. "I’m really happy", he said. "I was still going all the way for that gold medal, but once I crossed the finish line, I realized I got silver at the Olympics. That’s something I worked for such a long time, it’s unbelievable.”

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Bart Swings (BEL) at the ISU World Allround Speed Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

After winning silver, at least there's something left to achieve. Swings wants to continue Speed Skating until the 2022 Beijing Olympic Games. As a seasoned Speed Skater he is still improving every year.

Throughout his Speed Skating career, Swings has always kept on his inline activities in the summer, winning multiple European and World titles along the way. Despite the differences in technique, the Belgium champion switches from blades to wheels and back to blades again by the end of summer. Swings hopes that inline skating will become an Olympic sport once, but in the meantime he believes that his inline efforts in the summer help him to improve on the ice in the winter, with the 2022 Beijing Oympics always in the back of his head.