Athlete of the Week: John Gagnon ’17

Last Saturday, John Gagnon had the run of his life. With a time of 8:30.96, the talented 3000 meter runner from Clarkesville, GA not only obliterated his personal record by 19 seconds, but he also broke Swarthmore’s school record by almost 10 seconds. It was a record that had remained unbroken for 13 years.
THE PHOENIX: What is your major and what influenced you to pursue it?
JOHN GAGNON: I am majoring in History.  It is something that I’ve been interested in since I was pretty young. I’ve always seemed to have a fascination with stories and old things.  More recently, though, I’ve come to see history as an important and powerful tool for understanding our place in the world in which we live.
TP: What was going through your mind when you realized that you broke the school record?
JG: Honestly, I can’t say that there was too much going through my mind when I broke the record, but it was pretty exciting.  I’ve kind of had this record as of goal of mine since last year, and this race was finally a good chance to go for it.  The past few months of training had been going well for me, so I knew my fitness was in a good place, so I knew the record was a possibility.  About two-thirds of the way through the race I knew that I was on pace for the record, so from there I just kind of focused on not falling off pace, so when I finished the race it was kind of a combination of happiness and relief.
TP: What does it mean to you knowing that you left a legacy for future runners?
JG: As far as legacy, I think it’s neat for my teammates that are in the grades below me to see a record broken.  I think it gives them a sense that the records aren’t untouchable.  We run together everyday, and they’re out there working out alongside me, so I like to think that my breaking this record makes it easier for them to envision doing the same.  There are a lot of really talented and hard-working juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about them breaking my or other records in the next few years. There were a number of really good runners that have graduated since I’ve arrived here that have set school records and otherwise set examples of what can be accomplished. I hope that I can be the same for younger runners.

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