Just as the sun is setting in the mountains in Colorado Springs, Denver Online High School Junior Ethan Swaidner heads to practice.
“We’re at the Colorado Springs Olympic training velodrome,” he said. “It’s a training facility for track cycling. Track cycling is kind of a weird sport. Basically it’s riding a bike that you can’t coast or shift on, on a banked track.”
Heading into his fourth season, Ethan started just three years ago.
Ethan explained, “My parents used to race track cycling so we went to this race and I asked the question, ‘How can I get started in this?’ My dad immediately jumped on the opportunity and went to all the coaches he knew and asked if I could get started.”
And he didn’t waste any time, just recently being selected to the Olympic Development Program.
“I believe that eighty-four applied, fifteen were taken to the sprint side of camp, and then ten were selected to the team,” he noted, Ethan being one of ten elite track cycling athletes chosen from across the nation.
“There are a couple of training camps we go to around the country which is part of the program,” he said. “We also have a race series going on which is like four or five national level races throughout the year in different places.”
Describing how athletes qualify for the Olympics, he said, “Olympic selection in this sport is a little bit different than other sports in that it takes points instead of just an event to get selected. So it’s a multi-year process but luckily I’m starting pretty far out.”
The determined student transitioned to Denver Online this past year, saying, “One of the things that drew me to Denver Online was definitely being able to pace myself, even if it’s just every week, and that really, really helps with track cycling because I can organize my assignments around my training sessions.”
Tuition-free college credit is also a major plus, the junior noting, “Concurrent enrollment is probably my favorite part of Denver Online. It’s just so helpful. And even in contrast to AP classes, it’s so much better. Like wow. It’s great to get college credit that’s guaranteed to transfer while actually going to college classes and getting that experience as well.”
Juggling high school courses, college classes, and a rigorous training schedule, he’s got a lot on his plate.
However, the go-getter described, “The online school really helps with not feeling overwhelmed, because I feel like I’m in control of what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. And that really helps me focus on everything I need to do and put one-hundred percent effort into my schoolwork and my training so I don’t have to make any trade-offs or anything.”
That’s what Denver Online High School is all about: no trade-offs. We want our students to graduate from high school and be prepared for their futures, while still being able to pursue their wildest goals. And our students really do have some big dreams.
Looking forward to hopefully qualifying for the 2028 Olympics, Ethan said, “I think the Olympics is very much a goal for me, and it has been ever since I started racing in track cycling. And it would just be really cool, even just to go. Yeah, that’s definitely the end goal I think.”