It is with much sadness that we report that Carla Swart, a multi-discipline cycling collegiate champion for Lees-McRae College, was killed today while training in her native South Africa. Her family emigrated to the US and on a running/cycling scholarship she enrolled at the North Carolina college. While an athlete at Lees-McRae she held 19 national cycling titles. In 2008 she made history by being the only collegiate cyclist to win titles in all of its disciplines.
Carla not only posted strong results on the college level but internationally as well, including eighth in the Ronde Van Drenthe World Cup.
Talking to VeloNation Swart was pleased with that result.
“It was the first time I got a top ten in a World Cup event in my first block of international classic racing. Half-way through the race I got away and and got a big gap on the field, and it was amazing how it worked out in the end.”
Swart had just become a member of the 2011 HTC-Highroad squad and with her past cycling achievements, was sure to be a strong racer for the team. Her new teammate Yoko Teutenberg posted to her Twitter account, “She was one of the most vibrant people I met and made everybody smile. She has been taken from us way too early. RIP Carla.”
Her team also posted a touching sentiment on their website. “Carla, in such a short time you became part of our family and touched us all with your vibrant personality and your constant smile. You infected us with your zest for life and we will forever have you in our hearts. Our wishes go out to Carla’s family and loved ones.”
Lees-McRae President Barry Buxton in a press release stated, “For those of us who are cyclists, we recognize that there is an element of danger in the sport of cycling that will always be with us. Carla understood the risk but she believed the joy of cycling outweighed the inherent dangers. Carla Swart will always be in our hearts, and we will honor her countless accomplishments with the Carla Swart Memorial Scholarship at Lees-McRae College.”
CyclingNews.com reported that she was out training with Barry Austin, Cycling South Africa’s team manager, conducting time trialing exercises. Carla’s cycling computer dropped to the ground and she circled back to retrieve it turning into an oncoming truck.
“I could see how the driver slammed on his brakes. He even swerved to the right so as to avoid smashing into Swart, but it was to no avail. The truck hit Swart full on, flinging her into the air,” Austin told CyclingNews.com.
Carolina Cycling News joins in the many heartfelt condolences to her family, friends and teammates that are being expressed worldwide today.
The Carla Swart Memorial Scholarship will be awarded annually to a female cyclist who demonstrates a love for the sport and exhibits great promise as a cyclist. Checks should be made out to Lees-McRae College (note Carla Swart Scholarship in the memo line) and mailed to the Office of Advancement, P.O. Box 128, Banner Elk, NC 28604. With questions about the scholarship, please contact Caroline Hart, vice president for advancement, at (828) 898-8777.