High school athletes have it made in Carpinteria. Besides receiving quality coaching, they have their own personal photographer.
Whether you’re swinging a bat, running along the bluffs, scoring a goal, serving an ace, swishing a 3-pointer, clearing a hurdle, driving off a tee, doing the breaststroke, catching a pass in the end zone or celebrating with your teammates, Bill Swing has taken your picture.
Swing could be considered the “unofficial” team photographer for all the athletic teams at Carpinteria High and Cate School. He’s unofficial because neither school hires him to do it. He shoots the athletes performing for the love of the game.
And, he won’t accept a dime for his photos.
“I actually have a bit of an aversion to charging people any money,” Swing said, ever so humbly. “(But) I love being taken out to breakfast or being invited to the season’s sports banquets … that’s payment enough.”
For all his efforts and his never-ending support of high school sports in Carpinteria, Swing is being recognized as the Presidio Sports’ Volunteer of the Month.
The award – made possible by Pacific Western Bank – seeks to recognize those in the sports community who selflessly donate their time and efforts to making other peoples lives better.
It’s rare to find Swing without a camera hanging from his neck during the school year. Monday through Saturday, he’ll be firing off photos at a field, gym, track, tennis court, golf course or swimming pool that’s the venue for a Carpinteria High or Cate event.
Asked how many athletic events he shoots during a year, Swing replied: “When I’m really tired, way too many, but, at the end of the summer, not enough.”
He said he shoots about six to seven events a week during the school year.
“I have tried to shoot the entire event at most but do find myself slowing down a bit recently,” he said.
That’s hard to believe.
Swing is going strong at age 68. He is an inspiration to the athletes and coaches.
“Bill Swing works tirelessly and unconditionally for the athletic community in Carpinteria,” Carpinteria High athletic director and baseball coach Pat Cooney said. “He is a photojournalist, an artist, a historian, an official, a volunteer driver, a mentor and a friend. He seems to work only for the intrinsic reward of working with young people.
“Student-athletes, parents, coaches and community members are indebted to him. Bill Swing’s volunteer efforts are a major component of the vitality of the athletic programs at Carpinteria High School. Bill has fun and he makes it fun for others.”
In addition to shooting photos, Swing finds time to help out coaching the Carpinteria cross country team. He also volunteers his time to drive a team van to an athletic event.
Cate athletic director Wade Ransom said the athletic programs in Carpinteria are lucky to have a person who takes “an interest in making the sports experience as great as possible for the kids.
“Through the generous use of his camera and keen sense of timing, our student-athletes have had some of their greatest triumphs documented,” Ransom added. “Bill captures the fun of high school sports and shares all of his photos so our teams will have a keepsake of each season, yet he has never asked for anything in return.
“We are so grateful he has chosen to be a part of the Cate athletic community and are thrilled to relive our thrilling moments in his photos.”
Swing started shooting Carpinteria prep sports when his son, Tyson, was competing for Carpinteria High in the early 1990s.
“I began videotaping Carpinteria High track and field and cross country in 1990 for the kids and began to shoot digital stills around 1995,” he said.
Through the years he’s submitted photos to the weekly Coastal View News and the Carpinteria High yearbook.
“Both the Coastal View News and the CHS Chismahoo (yearbook) use my sports shots, but I’ve not yet made the cover of Sports Illustrated,” he quipped.
“Every student at Carpinteria High School and Cate School gets a personal photographer when they sign up for a sport. And a darn good one at that,” said Peter Dugre, the sports and associate editor at Coastal View News. “Bill gives his time and expertise without thought of gaining a thing. Coastal View News would not be nearly as well represented at local sports contests without Bill. He is as much a part of Carpinteria athletics as anyone who sets foot on a court or field.”
Swing’s zeal for sports photography is so strong that not even a disability could keep him off the sidelines. In 2002, he had his right leg amputated below the knee due to complications from diabetes.
“I got an infection in the bones of my right foot,” he explained. “Complications from diabetes caused the injury to advance to the point where my foot could not be saved.”
He says the prosthesis slows him down, “but I suspect that my years are equally to blame.”
The love of the work and the interaction with the young athletes energizes him.
“I have said to friends that my volunteering to work with the kids in high school is selfish due to all the advantages that I gain: exercise and infectious influences that the kids place on me … probably the best thing to keep me young.”
Swing caught the photography bug when he was a student at Pasadena High. He found his way to Carpinteria through surfing.
“I was not into school sports but began to meet people in Carpinteria while surfing in the late 1950s,” he said. “As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved to Carpinteria and have been here since.”
He worked as a fireman in the city and has done carpentry work for many years.
He said the first camera he used to shoot Carpinteria sports was a Canon “pocket” camera. He quickly upgraded to a Canon 20D. Today, he calls his two 60D’s his workhorses, and he uses a Canon Mark-IV for low light “and when I want a slight edge in quality.”
Being a high school athlete in Carpinteria is like being a member of a family, and Swing is that fun-loving uncle who snaps the photos at the family gatherings.
He said athletes from the past still come up to him and thank him for his photos.
“Those events are probably the most rewarding benefit of any kind of volunteerism,” he said. “I’ve run into both Cate and Carpinteria High grads out in the real world and they often thank me for shooting their high school events.”
VOLUNTEER OF THE MONTH
Volunteers often go under-recognized even though they are extremely important to the athletic community.
So important that many of the sporting events and organizations key to our lives wouldn’t be possible without those who donate their time to assist others.
Presidio Sports and Pacific Western Bank have joined forces to change that. This new monthly spotlight series is our way of thanking those that selflessly give themselves for the benefit of many.
To all volunteers making a difference, we salute you.