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Season 12’s format plays right into Ethan Swanson’s strengths

He’s been fast before. Now it really comes in handy.

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

Due to the pandemic, American Ninja Warrior was unable to travel during 2020, meaning the Las Vegas National Finals are a no-go. Instead, the show will wrap up with head-to-head races on the Power Tower.

That, along with the fact that only the top 12 advance during each Qualifiers regardless of buzzer-status, means speed is huge this year. Previously, a Ninja needed an intense amount of endurance to have a chance to survive Stage Three. Now, they’ll have to be fast, really fast.

When we heard about the new format for season 12 of American Ninja Warrior, a handful of Ninjas immediately came to mind. Ninjas who are known for their speed. Ethan Swanson is one of those Ninjas and he’s already off and running this year.

Ethan ripped through the Qualifying course on night two, clocking in the second fastest time at just over a minute. That sent him to the Power Tower with Jake Murray, where he did lose out in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it race. But the season will still provide many more opportunities for Ethan to show off his speed.

We wanted to get Ethan’s perspective on coming into a season that seems to play to his strengths. Read on for his responses.

“I am so grateful to be here. I thought there was no chance whatsoever that this season was going to happen. When it was finally announced and I got a call to compete, it was like ‘Man, this is crazy.’ Then hearing about the new format, which is going to be so exciting. A lot more dense competition. A lot more of the best athletes competing head-to-head.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

“My motivation is the same it’s been every other season, which is to do the best that I can. This is my seventh year competing, which is crazy to say out loud. You try to get better every year, you try to prove to yourself that your training is paying off. That I have what it takes to overcome the obstacles. I just like to compete and I like to compete at this level.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

“I have been running fast for the past couple of years. But here’s the thing, I feel like I’m known as a fast competitor, but there are a lot of other competitors who don’t run fast because, previously, if you hit a buzzer you moved on. So I think we’re going to see a lot of competitors who we don’t usually see as fast, we’re going to see what they’re capable of. That is a very scary thought.

There are so many people who are so good and so fast. There’s only four Qualifiers as opposed to six. There’s going to be more good people on every episode.”

Elizabeth Morris/NBC

“My biggest goal is to run at a pace that I feel is good enough and try to make it as far as I can. The big goal is to make it to the Power Towers. But there are a lot of people here who want the same thing and not a lot of people get to make it there.”

“This is going to be my seventh year competing, so I’m really not nervous at this point. I feel like I know what I have to do. I feel like I know the obstacles. I know the mental state I have to compete in. I know what’s expected of me. At this point it’s just execute. My biggest obstacles are staying focused, staying on track, and dealing with what I consider are the unknowns.”

Ethan handled the unknowns fairly well on his Qualifiers outing! His super fast time placed him second overall for the night and he did make the Power Tower. Time will be important once again when Ethan returns for the Semi-Finals.