Carl William (“Bill”) Swallender, born in 1908, was one of seven children. He began skating as a teenager at the Minneapolis Arena. Representing the Twin City Figure Skating Club, Bill won the junior men’s title at the 1933 Nationals. After competing in senior men’s for two years, Bill turned professional and taught in Kansas City. In 1937 he married childhood skating friend, Genevieve Nelson, who performed in Ice Follies as a member of the sister act “The Four Nelson Sisters.” Bill then taught in Baltimore, at the Broadmoor, and at the Chicago Figure Skating Club. He met his first protégé, Ginny Baxter, while teaching during the summers at Lake Placid. After teaching in Philadelphia in the late forties, he moved to the Detroit Skating Club in 1950.
In 1952, Ginny Baxter placed fifth at the Olympics, third at Worlds, and then retired. That year Bill started working with eight-year-old Doug Ramsay. By the mid-fifties, Bill regularly taught at Michigan State University in East Lansing during the summer. In 1955, he opened his own rink, the $50,000, 37 X 43 foot Swallender Ice Studio in Detroit. Doug Ramsay was the 1960 U.S. junior men’s champion and became the 1961 U.S. World Team alternate when he placed fourth at the 1961 Nationals. A week before the 1961 North Americans, Doug was invited to join the 1961 World Team. Bill’s family had never traveled with him to competitions, but he invited Gen and sons, Bill, seventeen, and Erik, seven, to accompany him to North Americans in Philadelphia.