As a student, alumnus Mike Johnson lived in Lewis Jones Residences during his first year at Swansea University. One of his fondest memories of this time involves the attendance of a very special guest at a friend's birthday party.

Head and shoulders photo of Mike Johnson

Mike's Memory

The time that a giant swan visited Sibly Halls of Residence is one of the stand out memories from my time at Swansea University.

On 10 May 2002, a group of us had gone out for a friend’s birthday. When we got back to our halls (Lewis Jones), we decided it would be a good idea to borrow a swan from the Pub on the Pond as a birthday present.

Memories are sketchy on how the plan came about, but two of our group bravely (or stupidly) volunteered to swim across to the central island in the pond, unhook a swan and pedal it to the shore.

About half a dozen of us were there to carry it down Mumbles Road and on to campus. I still remember how heavy the swan was – even with six or so of us carrying it, it took a while to get it into the University. By the time we reached the entrance to campus, with cars honking us encouragement all the way, we had had enough and returned to our halls for a break. A while later, some of our group continued the journey of transporting the swan all the way to Sibly Halls of Residence.

In the meantime, some other students had carried the swan across the road and were trying to put it in the sea. We were able to reclaim it though and take it to Sibly. There was an instant audience. The porters thought it was hilarious. They knew it was us who had relocated the swan, despite our protestations.

For the next day or so, people would come to have their photos taken with the swan outside Sibly – it became quite the tourist attraction during its visit!

Two students in the pond at night, swimming towards the swan boats

Before we could return the swan to its natural habitat in the pond, someone else tried to move it to the beach again. They were caught in the act and forced to take it back to the Pub on the Pond (totally undamaged, of course) which was great – it saved us a job.

One of my friends encouraged me to submit an article to the student newspaper. I didn’t think they would ever publish it, but they asked for blurred out photos and it made the front page!

It was a daft thing to do (like a lot of the best memories of being young and at university) but it has become a fond memory to me and everyone else involved because it highlighted how daft we could be, and how much fun we could have together without it ever being destructive. It was all good natured, needed a lot of teamwork, and for the next two years we were the people who had kidnapped the swan. Even now, when we all meet up, it’s invariably a story that gets told (though maybe less accurately every time!)

The swan is now living a peaceful life on the pond with it's bevy - please don't disturb them!

A photo of the student newspaper article from 2002 that reported the giant swan's visit to Sibly
A group of 7 students sat on the giant swan
A photo of the giant swan boat outside Sibly Residences at night