UNION – At age 15, Dominic Swanson has been powerlifting half of his life for a chance to compete on the international stage.
That moment will soon arrive for the Huntley High School sophomore when he competes in the World Powerlifting Congress’ World Championship, an international event hosted in Prague for those with the proven strength to compete in events such as the bench press, dead lift and squats.
The event begins Oct. 26.
It is a moment Swanson has worked toward since he started powerlifting at 8 years old under the guidance of his dad, Gary Swanson, who operates a 2,000-square-foot gym in the backyard of the family’s home near Union.
Powerlifting has been a fixture in the Swanson household, with Dominic Swanson’s dad, uncle and cousin all experienced in the sport. Swanson has made powerlifting a passion, training four days a week.
In May, Swanson, at 220 pounds, set a world record for bench press during a competition in Michigan. He lifted 259 pounds, which for his age and weight class shattered the previous record set by a Russian, who topped out at 242 pounds.
The record-setting feat, along with other state and national records, earned him an invite from the American Powerlifting Association to represent Team USA at the World Championship
The international competition became a goal for Swanson after he saw his cousin win at the World Championship nearly a decade ago. He took time away from his weights to discuss powerlifting with reporter Stephen Di Benedetto.
Di Benedetto: How did you get started at 8 years old?
Swanson: My dad got me started. My cousin and my uncle and my dad have been powerlifting for a while. My uncle used to be No. 3 in the world for powerlifting.
Di Benedetto: Why have you kept it going?
Swanson: My cousin made it to Worlds. He didn’t get invited, but he went to Worlds and he won it as an outsider. That kind of motivated me to want to go to Worlds, too. That kind of pushed me to work harder because I’ve wanted to go there ever since he has done that.
Di Benedetto: How important has your dad been with your powerlifting?
Swanson: In powerlifting, there is a lot of math and strategy to it when you’re lifting against other lifters. He’s always there to motivate me before and after lifts. He chooses my weights. He doesn’t tell me what I am lifting. I just go in there and do it when we are at meets, so that way I can just do it and not think about it.
Di Benedetto: How did you get associated with the American Powerlifting Association?
Swanson: Since I set the world record [in May], I’m the No. 1 seed for Worlds, so they called me and asked me to go. They pretty much take the top competitors at each age group across the country.
Di Benedetto: What was your reaction when they invited you?
Swanson: I was shocked. I always dreamed about this since seeing my cousin went to Worlds, and I’ve always wanted to go myself.
Di Benedetto: When you do head to Prague later this fall, what’s the ultimate goal for you?
Swanson: To represent Team USA and hopefully win, but I’m going to set the world record again ... in the bench, and one of my goals is to try and set the world record in the squat and dead lift.