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In Memory of Carla Swart

The world of women’s cycling suffered a great loss yesterday.  Carla Swart, 23, of South Africa was killed during a training ride in South Africa.  Carla was not only an incredible athlete, with a whooping 19 national titles in Collegiate Cycling in the four disciplines of cycling (road, mountain, cyclocross, and track), and a long list of other impressive results, she was also an incredible, vibrant, friendly person.

I got to know Carla a bit over the years through collegiate cycling.  Carla raced for the Lees McRae College, where she fueled her passion for the sport of cycling.  I vividly remember my first race against Carla.  She easily and smartly won the 2008 Collegiate National Road Race in Ft. Collins, CO, both outsmarting and outsprinting a pack of more seasoned riders.  She kept winning that particular race, in addition to many more, every year since then.

Here is Carla winning in 2008. Image credit: USA Cycling.

Over time, as I got to know her better, I was amazed by her ability to race her bike with incredible passion and tenacity, and then as soon as she got off the bike, she was very lighthearted, fun, easygoing, and enjoyable to be around.  She truly had an incredible love and talent for bike racing.  But more importantly, her incredible talent never went to her head.  She was always gracious, generous, and incredibly nice.  Carla had just signed a full-time contract to race with HTC-Highroad where she surely would have continued her upward progression in the sport of cycling.

Carla will be deeply missed by us all.  The sport of womens cycling, and cycling in general, is mourning a great loss.  As USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson said, “Words fail me at times like this, but I do know the world has lost a wonderful spirit and that she will be sorely missed. It is tragic and extremely sad when anyone’s life is cut short but particularly so when it is someone we know and with whom we shared her and her teammates’ success and joy at Collegiate Nationals.”

Those of us from the team at Women’s Bike Talk send our deepest condolences to her friends, family, and everyone who knew her.

If you would like to donate in memory of Carla, Lees McRae College has set up a scholarship fund to be awarded to a female cyclist each year who demonstrates a passion for cycling and promise in the sport:

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.

Rest in Peace, Carla.

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1 comment

1 Kimberly { 01.21.11 at 7:33 pm }

Thanks for this, Mel.

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