Survivor Wiki

Russell Swan is a contestant from Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Philippines.

A charismatic leader, Russell's leadership in Samoa saw his Galu tribe dominate Foa Foa, though he was abruptly pulled from the game in one of the show's most frightening medical evacuations due to severe dehydration.

His return performance in Philippines as a member of the ill-fated Matsing tribe was less flattering, as he was perceived by some of his tribemates as domineering and lacking in self-awareness, and was voted out after his tribe's fourth consecutive loss.


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Russell Swan (42)
Hometown: Glenside, Pa.
Occupation: Attorney

At 5'11" and 220 "semi-solid" pounds, this attorney spends his working hours suing companies and individuals who violate environmental laws. In addition to practicing law, Russell enjoys spending time with his wife and five-year-old daughter and watching independent films.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, Russell's father fell victim to layoffs at a local steel mill and struggled to support his family. Forced to move into Section 8 housing, his parents eventually divorced but the separation did not weaken any of his relationships, including the one he shared with his parents. Russell's hero is his dad whom he says, "really loved his family and was a perfect example of what a husband should be to his wife, and what a dad should be to his child."

Despite tumultuous circumstances (or as a result of), Russell has been attracted to jobs with responsibilities ranging from environmental protection, minority youth education advocacy and representation for homeless individuals. He is a dedicated father and a loving husband and describes a perfect day as spending time with his daughter and ending the day by "talking" privately with his wife.

A passionate man, Russell cannot stand hearing over-generalizations about specific groupings of people and avoids discussing topics relating to race and sexuality because he feels that others usually have a hard time dealing with his conversation style.

Always prepared to joke and laugh at himself, Russell is willing to go to drastic lengths for a million dollars in order to win including making a vow to cut off his dreadlocks if he wins the title of Sole Survivor.

Currently, Russell resides in Glenside, Pa. His birthday is February 17.[1]

Name (Age): Russell Swan (45)
Previous Seasons: Survivor: Samoa
Previous Finish: Medical evacuation due to Dehydration. I fainted multiple times during a challenge. Jeff Probst has described this as, "the scariest moment I've ever had on the show."
Tribe Designation: Matsing
Current Residence: Glenside, Penn.
Occupation: Environmental Attorney
Personal Claim to Fame: Being a good Dad.
Inspiration in Life: My dad because he was a very ordinary guy, but a damn good dad. He really loved his family and was a perfect example of what a husband should be to his wife, and what a dad should be to his child.
Hobbies: Riding my motorcycle, mountain biking and skiing.
Pet Peeves: I hate whiners, materialistic people and generally people who are full of crap.
3 Words to Describe You: Energetic, optimistic and focused.
If You Could Have 3 Things on The Island What Would They Be and Why? I would bring my "Terrible Towel" because I'm an avid Steelers fan and I'm always looking for converts. That's it!
Reason for Being on Survivor: First, the game kicked my butt and I want payback. Second, I want to show people that failure doesn't always mean the end.
Why You Think You'll "Survive" Survivor: I bring strength for the physically demanding challenges. I'm cunning – I know how to get my way without being overly confrontational. And, I have a sense of humor. I love making people laugh.

Why You Think You Will Be the Sole Survivor: Because I've already tried the failure route. I'm gonna take a different path and win this time![2]



Upon arriving in Samoa, Russell was placed on Galu. Russell was elected the Tribe Leader by his tribemates on Day 1, but was reluctant to accept the position. At camp, Russell managed to lead his tribe quite well despite being faced with many difficult decisions that he had to make, with his leadership skills encouraging Galu to win challenge after challenge.

Seeing Shambo Waters's dismal performance around camp and in challenges, he sent an already alienated Shambo to be the observer of the Foa Foa tribe twice in a row and making her miss out on reward, but unbeknownst to Russell, Shambo enjoyed her visits with Foa Foa. When the downpour came in the second quarter of the game, Russell began to increase his work quota. This proved to be almost fatal when Russell was evacuated during the Reward Challenge on Day 15 when his heart rate plunged, canceling the planned Double Tribal Council that night.

Voting History

Russell S.'s Voting History
Episode Russell S.'s
Voted Against
Russell S.
1 Galu Tribe Immune
2 Galu Tribe Immune
3 Galu Tribe Immune
4 Yasmin -
5 Galu Tribe Immune
6 No Vote
Evacuated, Day 15


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The last time I played, Survivor smacked me in the chops, and this time, I'm smacking back.

Russell returned to the game for a second time, becoming a member of the Matsing tribe. Russell vocally announced that he did not want to be Matsing's leader, wanting to avoid what happened to him the first time around. However, Russell still gave out orders, causing fellow tribe members Angie Layton and Malcolm Freberg to consider voting him out at the earliest opportunity. Matsing managed to lose the first Immunity Challenge on Day 3, but Russell was spared when Zane Knight's strategy of asking to be voted out (to feel out who wanted him around) backfired, and he was unanimously voted out 5-1.

Russell would soon gain an ally, Roxy Morris, with the two wanting to split up Angie and Malcolm. Russell attempted to swing Denise Stapley (who, unbeknownst to both parties, was Malcolm's ally). Matsing would lose a second Immunity Challenge, though by a much smaller margin. At Tribal Council, Russell was once again spared, but decided to vote Roxy with the majority.

At the third Immunity Challenge on Day 8, Russell struggled to climb up the ladder out of the water, once again putting him in the hot seat against Angie, who also struggled, as Matsing once again lost by a small margin. At Tribal Council, Russell campaigned, saying that he was more dedicated to the game of Survivor and had more experience than Angie. Russell found himself spared again by a 3-1 vote as Angie was sent home.

With Matsing down to three, Russell was on the outs as he no longer had any allies, nor would he have many (if any) valid arguments to convince either Denise or Malcolm to turn on each other. Russell tried to find the tribe's Hidden Immunity Idol, but failed to do so after Denise caught him. At the next Immunity Challenge, Matsing lost for the fourth time in a row, causing Russell to snap by smashing the rice pot used in the challenge, telling host Jeff Probst that he wanted to be made of "excellence". Russell believed himself to be the swing vote as Denise and Malcolm plotted against the other, although this was a ruse to blindside Russell. At the fourth Tribal Council, a shocked Russell was voted out 2-1 and became the fourth person voted out on Survivor: Philippines, finishing in 15th place.

Voting History

Russell's Voting History
Episode Russell's
Voted Against
1 Zane Zane
2 Roxy -
3 Angie Angie
4 Malcolm Denise, Malcolm
Voted Out, Day 10


  • After coming home from Philippines, Russell fell into depression. He experienced denial and felt horrible because he had to re-live his experience while watching the show.[3]


  • Russell applied for Survivor seven times before getting cast on Samoa.[4] Russell also made it to the casting semi-finals of The Australian Outback.[5]
  • Russell is the oldest man on the Galu tribe and the oldest member of the Matsing tribe.
  • Russell's evacuation in Samoa was so severe that this incident marked the first time that a challenge was canceled while underway, with neither tribe awarded the win.
  • Russell is the only returnee on Philippines to not be informally addressed by his last name.
  • Russell is the first returning player who was eliminated without making the merge or the jury phase in any of their respective seasons.
  • Russell, Tom Westman, Francesca Hogi, Colton Cumbie, and Caleb Reynolds have been affiliated with only two tribes despite having played two seasons.
  • Russell is the only returnee in Philippines who did not improve from his last placement.
  • On both of his seasons, Russell appeared 13th in the opening credits.
  • The only occasion where Russell did not vote with his tribe's majority was when he was voted out in Philippines.


Survivor: Samoa Castaways
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Survivor: Philippines Castaways
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