Friday, 14 Jun 2024

When not Sitting, Swearingen Flies

Charlie Swearingen, a member of the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team, has defied expectations throughout his life. Born with bilateral fibular hemimelia, a genetic disorder that resulted in a double amputation at 9 months old, Swearingen has worn prosthetic legs ever since. Despite his physical challenges, he has excelled as a flight paramedic and as an athlete.

Overcoming Challenges in his Career

In his line of work, Swearingen’s shorter legs have actually proven advantageous. Due to his mobility, he is able to move around the aircraft with ease and access smaller spaces. This has allowed him to provide assistance in situations where others might have been unable to reach. Swearingen’s unique perspective challenges the misconception that he wouldn’t be able to perform his job effectively.

From Baseball to Volleyball

Growing up in Gulfport, Mississippi, Swearingen’s passion was baseball. He played varsity baseball for Millsaps College. However, during a visit to his prosthetist, he tried on a pair of running blades which caught the attention of Paralympic track coaches after a video of him running a 5:42 mile went viral. This unexpected turn of events led Swearingen to discover sitting volleyball during a clinic at the 2009 Endeavor Games in Oklahoma. Intrigued by the sport, Swearingen was approached by members of the Men’s Sitting Team, who encouraged him to pursue it further.

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Balancing Dreams

While leaving his dream job as a flight paramedic in Jackson, Mississippi was not an easy decision, Swearingen felt that his experience working on a helicopter had prepared him well for the challenges of professional sports. He had learned to rely on his training, and this mindset helped him cope with overwhelming situations both on and off the court.

Success on the Court

Swearingen’s dedication and training paid off during the World ParaVolley Intercontinental Cup in China. Despite being down two sets and facing a 24-19 deficit against Iran, the second-ranked team in the world, Swearingen’s calm approach and his teammates’ scrappy play allowed them to push the Iranians to 28-28. Although they eventually lost the set 30-28, this match highlighted the team’s determination and ability to come together in challenging situations.

A Shining Example

With 15 points scored in ten kills, three blocks, and two aces, Swearingen’s performance in the Intercontinental Cup showcased his talent and dedication. U.S. Men’s Sitting Team head coach Greg Walker commended Swearingen as one of the best in the world in his professional field and praised his commitment to the team.

Looking Ahead

Now working as a critical care clinical instructor with Air Methods, a Denver-based air medical service provider, Swearingen and his volleyball teammates are focused on the upcoming Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. This will be the first appearance for the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team in over a decade, and they are determined to improve upon their previous performance. Swearingen emphasizes the importance of relaxation and finding their groove as they prepare for the games.

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Q: How did Charlie Swearingen become involved in sitting volleyball?
A: Swearingen discovered sitting volleyball during a clinic at the 2009 Endeavor Games in Oklahoma. His unique talent and dedication led to his involvement with the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team.

Q: How does Swearingen’s amputation affect his career as a flight paramedic?
A: Swearingen’s amputation has actually proven beneficial in his line of work. His shorter legs allow him to move around the aircraft more easily and access smaller spaces.

Q: What is the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team’s upcoming challenge?
A: The team is preparing for the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where they hope to improve upon their previous performance.


Charlie Swearingen’s story is an inspiration to all. Despite facing physical challenges, he has shown that with determination and the right mindset, one can overcome any obstacle. His success as both a flight paramedic and an athlete is a testament to his resilience and unwavering commitment. As he and the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team prepare for the Paralympic Games, they will undoubtedly continue to make strides in the world of sitting volleyball. For more information about Charlie Swearingen and the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team, visit Alpinetgheep.