California teacher drops 75 pounds en route to setting dance video game records
by Patrick Scott Patterson
Originally published May 4, 2013
A multi-time Guinness World Record holder on dancing video games is gearing up for another 48-hours of motion control gaming.
On June 15, Bakersfield, California school teacher Carrie Swidecki will attempt two simultaneous world records on Just Dance 4. Using the Xbox Kinect, the 36-year old champion will aim to set record marks for "Longest Marathon on a Motion-Sensing Video Game" and "Longest Marathon on a Dance/Rhythm Game" by dancing for 48-hours straight.
Swidecki's journey to becoming a multiple world record holder on dancing games first started in 2000.
"Thirteen years ago I was 210 pounds and living my life in the past. Within six years of graduating high school, I went from being a 120 pound athlete to gaining 90 pounds and being obese," she said. "In the summer of 2000, I discovered Dance Dance Revolution and fell in love with the arcade community."
In the years that followed, Swidecki entered numerous DDR tournaments, eventually cracking the top three after nine years of practice. She says she still remembers the moment that inspired her to get to this point.
"The first time I played Dance Dance Revolution, I didn't think anyone was watching. I quickly died after ten steps," Carrie recalled. "Some guy shouted 'you suck!' That moment and those words left and everlasting impression on me and I became determined to master the game. I remember I went home and I looked in the mirror. I was 210 pounds and I didn't recognize the reflection in front of me anymore. Then I looked at my old awards, trophies, pictures, and I told myself, 'I'm going to this, I'm going to beat this game, and be a champion.' It took me a negative moment, when I had low self esteem, to wake up, and find myself again. When you are at your lowest point in life, people pick up on that, and push you around. This is the moment I decided to stand up for myself."
The new motivation also marked a lifestyle change for Swidecki.
"Little did I know that those first ten steps I took on Dance Dance Revolution 13 years ago, would change my life," she said. "While chasing a dream, I would lose 75 pounds, set three world records, and become an advocate to fight childhood obesity in the school systems all while breaking boundaries for women in the gaming community."
Swidecki would set her first world record in 2010 in an effort to create awareness that motion control video games could serve as a way to fight childhood obesity. In a crowd of media stories that focus on negative claims about violent video games, Carrie says she'd like the media to become aware as well.
"Childhood obesity is a huge problem and traditional sports aren't working," she said. "Video games aren't going anywhere, they are the language of today. I would love to have the mainstream media focus on the healthy side of gaming. My local media is wonderful and when I set my world record for 24 hours on Dance Central 2 last year in Bakersfield they gave it a lot of attention. I never realized how much impact my story had until after those world records. People through out my hometown come up to me all the time to tell me they were inspired by my weight loss and how they had never thought about using dance video games until now. One lady told me she lost 20 pounds and had incorporated her Wii into her daily exercise routine. At trainings, teachers come up to me and tell me how they are now using video games in their classroom and they would of never thought of using it before. Seeing the positive impact my story has had on a local level, makes me wish the mainstream media would cover it. It's all about educating and bringing awareness to using exergaming as a way to fight obesity for all ages."
Swidecki's newest attempt will take place at Bakersfield video game stop Otto's Video Games and More. In addition to reaching her newest world record goals, she also states that she is hopeful her attempt can continue to help create public awareness.
"I love exergaming and it changed my life," she added. "Exergaming is why I wake up in the morning. It encompasses everything that I love in this world: dancing, music, video gaming, athletic aspect of it and the challenge of mastering the songs/levels. Not only did it change my life, but it has given me the confidence and strength to go and do things that I never dreamed of achieving in the past. I beat the odds of being a female gamer, obese, and aging in the process to set three world records. I hope to show that when you find something you love and work hard, you can achieve anything in this world."
UPDATE: Carrie not just reached her goal but exceeded it, dancing for an official time of 49 hours, 3 minutes and 22.2 seconds.
More on Carrie can be seen on her official website at CarrieSwidecki.com.