Dr. Swalander grew up in a small town in New Mexico and began working at the age of eleven as a kennel boy for the local veterinary clinic. He did his undergraduate work in biology and chemistry at New Mexico State University and later received his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University. He served his internship with the West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group (the second largest private veterinary hospital in the world at the time). After practicing in Southern California for a few years, he and his wife, Larissa, moved to the Tahoe-Truckee area to raise their family. He owned a large referral hospital in the late 1990s and, during his surgical residency there, he trained under the world renowned critical care and surgical expert, Dr. D. T. Crowe. During this time he published papers in peer-reviewed journals on epidural catheterization and the use of surgical lasers. These papers are still cited in veterinary textbooks today. Upon selling that hospital, he practiced at North Lake Veterinary Clinic in Tahoe City for nine years before joining the staff of Sierra Pet Clinic. An avid fly fisher and skier, he has lived in the Truckee area for fifteen years and is deeply involved in the community. He holds a black belt in karate and has officiated AAU karate tournaments in California, Nevada, and Oregon (including the West Coast Junior Olympics). He also coaches football at Truckee High School, and wrestling at Alder Creek Middle School.