Determination, passion for serving others lands TROY alumnus Kim Swan in Bermuda's House of Assembly
By Andy Ellis (original article)
As a former professional golfer, Troy University alumnus Kim Swan knows the importance of the drive in his golf game. It was a drive of a different kind though that has led Swan to where he is today – a member of the House of Assembly of Bermuda and Leader of the Opposition United Bermuda Party.
“I wanted to serve and kept focused on my ultimate goal to win a seat in Parliament,” the former Trojan golfer and 1980 graduate said. “It helped that I have a burning passion for politics and that I do not give up.”
Swan, who spoke to graduates on the Troy Campus during the fall commencement ceremony in December, entered the political arena in his native country in 1983 at the age of 25. And, while that race made him the youngest candidate at that time to ever seek elected office, it was a career path that had already been years in the making.
Swan credits two major influences in his decision to pursue public office.
“I grew up around several politicians in Bermuda,” Swan said. “Golf professional Walter King from Bermuda was a major influence in my life in the early 1970s and he successfully ran for public office in 1976. I proudly followed his lead and became both a golf professional and a member of Parliament.”
Swan also drew inspiration from the Hon. Ralph Marshall, the father of his childhood golfing buddy Blake Marshall.
“Blake’s father was my area Member of Parliament,” he said. “Following my sophomore year (1978) at Palm Beach Junior College, I shared with Blake that I was looking for a job because I could not afford to complete my education and attend Troy University where I had been accepted. Blake told me to contact his father, who would make it possible financially for me complete my education. Through that connection, I became very close with Mr. Marshall and became affiliated with his political branch.”
Swan served as an appointed senator from 1998-2007, but it would take him four general elections over a 25-year span before winning a seat in the House of Assembly of Bermuda in 2007. A month after his election, Swan became leader of the Opposition United Bermuda Party.
Swan’s persistent attitude wasn’t limited to the political arena. It was that mentality that led him to be named the TROY golf team’s Most Valuable Player in 1978 and 1979.
“My experience at Troy State University helped me immensely as TROY had such an outstanding reputation,” he said. “I had to put my all into both my golf and my education to make the grade. I walked on to one of the most successful golf programs in the country. Although TROY was Division II at the time, we could hold our own with the best in the country in Division I.”
Even today, Swan has no trouble remembering the high point of his tenure with the Trojan golf team.
“Winning both the team and individual titles at the Northeast Louisiana Invitational in Monroe, La. was my crowning moment in collegiate golf. The field was strong and it guaranteed us a bid to attend the National Championship in California where we finished fourth.”
Swan said his time at TROY prepared him well for the future, both on the golf course as a part of the PGA’s European Tour, and now, as an elected official. He points to a former Alabama governor and a former Trojan football coach as being among his mentors during his time at TROY.
“I was especially blessed to have had former Alabama Governor John Patterson as my State and Local Government professor. I enjoyed talking with him about politics after class,” Swan said. “Also, on a few occasions on weekends, I had the added pleasure of golfing with Troy Football Coach Charlie Bradshaw. He shared his wisdom freely and I benefited greatly.”
He is also quick to credit his growth and development as a golfer to then-TROY golf coach Mike Griffin.
“Coach Griffin helped with my mental game and with my putting, which took me over the hump as a player. He understood sport psychology before it was fashionable and made the difference in my performance and enabled me to win.”
Today, Swan makes his home in St. George, Bermuda where he lives with wife Ercinda “Cindy,” and his 15-year-old daughter. He also has three adult step-children. However, he is quick to point to his higher education experience in the United States as an important time in his life.
“I was something of a pioneer being a black golfer in 1970s, but I had no hang ups and I had an ability to fit in and adapt to any situation,” he said. “Additionally, I had been nurtured by the family of my former roommate, Ken Green, and friends in Connecticut and Florida who treated me as family. That was huge and the friendship and love will last forever. I give thanks to God for putting good people in my life and for putting Troy University in my life’s path.”