Daniel Swenson was forced to quit rugby after tearing up his knee.
He then discovered he was a natural at a sport he thought posed less danger to his health -- that is, until he slipped on a bridge Saturday at Patriots Park's disc golf course and fell into a creek.
Swenson recovered to win the Ice Bowl, a disc golf tournament that benefited Golden Harvest Food Bank.
The event is known for being held no matter what the weather, and the course was inundated with rain. The conditions left Swenson with a few bruises, but he believes the weather also kept the best players away.
"It was the worst of weather," Swenson said. "People are not going to risk getting injured."
The win was Swenson's third in a row. He's hoping to continue his roll and achieve professional status, getting sponsorships to play the game he picked up nearly two years ago. And he's trying to break barriers in a sport that has yet to reach mainstream status.
"I guess my real goal in the whole situation is to become the first black person to win a major event," Swenson said.
Swenson was one of two children adopted into a family of eight. He wasn't a fan of watching sports growing up, but he wanted to play them all.
He attended The Alleluia Community School, where he said his sports options were limited.
"We didn't have a baseball team. We didn't have all this stuff," the 29-year-old said. "My dream was to always become an athlete."
Swenson said that dream started to fade after he graduated high school and began work as an electrician.
He joined the area rugby team, but he wrecked his knee. A longtime friend later introduced him to disc golf, and he has committed to mastering it.
"It just came natural to me," he said. "I enjoy doing it."
And he takes it seriously.
Swenson studies magazines to follow other disc golfers and writes out his goals. When he practices, often at Lake Olmstead or Wildwood Park, he punishes himself with five push-ups for an errant drive and five sit-ups for a missed putt.
He said he wants to spend the summer getting in shape and planned to order a workout system for his birthday.
In less than two years, Swenson has worked his way up to Advanced status, granted by the Professional Disc Golf Association. His goal is to be granted Open (professional) status.
To get there, he travels to numerous sanctioned events. He'll go to Roswell, Ga., Bowling Green, Ky., and Kansas City, Mo., for the PDGA Disc Golf World Championships.
Swenson is hoping for an invitation to the event, which he says would make him more attractive to potential sponsors.
As of now, Swenson's wins earn him vouchers for merchandise. Wins as an Open player in a top-tier event would garner more, though probably not enough to make a living.
Swenson said he would one day like to get paid to run a disc golf program at a local YMCA.
"I'm just trying to put that out in the open for people to learn how to play," he said.
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