Four years ago Brandi Swicegood quit her job as an investigative reporter to chase her dream of becoming a professional triathlete and the ultimate role model for her daughter Adaline.
“It’s been an incredible adventure,” said Swicegood, who made the leap of faith in 2017, turned pro in 2019, and won her first triathlon earlier this year. “I miss my colleagues, and I miss getting to meet interesting people and having them entrust me with their stories. I don’t miss “the grind” of the 24-hr news cycle, especially in the current media environment.”
Swicegood was a journalist for 20 years, covering state politics and criminal justice for the Texas Tribune, The Dallas Morning News and others. During that stretch, her investigative work on the death penalty in Texas, including the case of Hank Skinner, helped shape public opinion on capital punishment. She also worked as an investigative editor for publications including The Los Angeles Times and USA Today.
Swicegood interviewing Hank Skinner
“When it comes to the death penalty, I think cases like Skinner’s - and many others - raise important questions that we have to grapple with as a civilized nation,” she said. “Are we ok with imposing an irreversible punishment when there’s a 100% chance that our fallible justice system will get it wrong in some instances?”
Shining a light on important issues facing her community was something she excelled at, but after the birth of her daughter Swicegood started to re-evaluate her priorities.
“I always loved triathlon, and I loved my work as a journalist, but it was hard to balance it all,” she found. “To train well, to be a good journalist, and to be a good mom most importantly.”
Swicegood at XTERRA Cameron Park, photo courtesy Tim Dunnahoo
So, Swicegood quit her job and started working towards becoming a professional athlete. It was a bold move, made all the more impressive by the fact that Swicegood didn’t have much of an athletic background, “I ran track in middle school for a year, that was about it,” she laughed.
After graduating from college, Swicegood started doing triathlon’s off-and-on for fun. Today, multisport means so much more.
Swicegood with her daughter Adaline
“My motivator is 100% my daughter,” explains Swicegood. “Every moment I’m out there on the course I’m thinking about setting a good example for her. Setting the example of a strong woman who believes in herself, believes in her ability to do hard things, and someone who never gives up on herself.”
Swicegood won three of four off-road triathlon races hosted by Race Revolutions across Texas so far this season, including XTERRA ATX in April. In May, she competed in her first XTERRA World Tour major at Oak Mountain State Park in Shelby County, Alabama, and placed 5th in the elite field.
Swicegood, far left, on XTERRA Oak Mountain Elite Podium
Next up for Swicegood is XTERRA Beaver Creek on July 17 in the thin air of the Rockies in Avon, Colorado. To prepare, she’s doing things professional triathletes do.
“I'm headed up to Winter Park with the family to acclimate for a couple weeks, and I’m also going to race the non-championship XC race at Mountain Bike Nationals in Winter Park,” she said. “I’ve raced at altitude before, and I’m prepared for it to be super hard, so I’ll give it my all and see where I come out.”
Having already accomplished her goal of becoming a professional triathlete and clearly succeeding as a positive role model for not just her daughter, but for all of us, Swicegood has already come out on top.
Swicegood at XTERRA Oak Mountain
Brandi Swicegood Fun Facts
Years racing: 14
Best Finish: My first ever overall win at a triathlon this year at Bluebonnet Off-Road Tri put on by Race Revolutions, the company that hosts the Texas XTERRA races.
Favorite Course: My favorite XTERRA course, so far, is Oak Mountain
Bike: Scott Spark RC900 Team bike
Wetsuit: BlueSeventy Helix
Shoes: Hoka Torrent
Helmet: Rudy Project Protera
Tires: Vittoria and Maxxis mix
Why you race XTERRA: It's fun. It's challenging. I'm always learning. And the community is so open and welcoming.
This year’s goal: My XTERRA and triathlon goal this year is to keep improving with each race and have my best race in Maui in December.