Rowing a car along the Olympic course at Eton Dorney was a rather odd thing to be doing, but the 25-year-old world champion from Edinburgh has had stranger days within the past year.
Swann was the woman selected to replace not just any old Olympian, but one of the pair who started last year's British Olympic gold rush.
It could hardly have been a more formidable challenge and, for all that courses normally negotiated are on the flattest water, yesterday's theme park-style photo-shoot was, in its way, quite suitable. The emotional wringer she has been through very much fits the old "roller-coaster" cliche.
Watching her international colleagues spearhead our Olympic challenge as it recovered from a sluggish start had been a bitter-sweet experience in itself. She revelled in the atmosphere while ruing her own injury-enforced absence. Initially selected to stroke the women's eight, she had been forced out by the latest of the back problems to have interrupted her progress since her teens; a problem that resulted in four painful months of rehab.
Her fortunes could hardly have changed more dramatically on her return to full fitness. Paul Thompson, the GB team's head coach, decided that she should have the chance to partner Helen Glover, the woman who, along with Heather Stanning, had won the first of Britain's Olympic golds in the coxless pairs.
"We did not know one another that well so it was quite daunting for me when we were put together for a few sessions. I was thinking: 'I can't mess things up for her . . .' but we did a few training pieces against other teams and went well right away, beating partnerships that were established," she explained.
"It really worked straightaway and it was really exciting. Once we realised that, it was great and I didn't really feel any pressure because it was totally new. Neither of us had any expectations. We knew we were rowing well but didn't know how we'd go against the rest of the world." They know now.
One victory followed another on the World Cup circuit last season, until they went into last month's World Championships in Korea as clear favourites and duly won.
The former George Heriot's pupil had proved herself a worthy successor to Gordonstoun product Stanning and now, as a new season gets underway, she is taking the time to reset her sights.
"I watched the Olympics last season, and all my friends and colleagues doing so well, but I was bitterly disappointed not to be competing with them," she admitted. "That has given me a drive to make the most of this opportunity. I would definitely like to think there will be no more driven competitor at the Rio Olympics and, while it was a real shame to miss the home Games, it might be a bit more exciting to head to Rio. The party at the end could be even better. They know how to put on a carnival."
Having just enjoyed three weeks on the beach, properly relaxing, she knows that the hard work starts now. "It doesn't matter what your last result was in this sport," she said. "You can't rest on your laurels because you can be sure there will be someone on the other side of the world, who did not win the world championships, who will not be resting on theirs."
Swann was born in Lancaster but was brought up through the Scottish system and took considerable time to believe fully in her ability. In her early years, she even found the initial attention her success brought difficult to deal with, after being introduced to rowing in her third year at high school.
"People saw me as having loads of potential but that is a cursed word because you only have potential if you fulfil it," said Swann.
Even when she made the British under-23 team after going to Edinburgh University, the doubts remained. "I was delighted to fulfil a goal I'd had since I was 16 [in being selected for the international team]," she said. "But I didn't think I had the potential to go further at that stage because I thought the senior GB team were leagues and leagues above how I was rowing."
She has since proved her own assessment wrong and those who had saddled her with the 'potential' tag right. So much so that she has asked for, and is grateful for having received, further time off her medical studies in order to pursue her Olympic dream. "It shows how forward thinking they are as a university," she said, "because they have been so supportive, even before I was challenging for world titles."
Armed as she is with the experience of last year's bitter disappointment and the realisation that she is better now than she ever believed she could be, Swann insists she possesses even more potential. "I feel really fresh after these three weeks off and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck in," she said. "I don't feel that I am the fittest or the strongest I can be yet which excites me."
Any other women aiming to contest the coxless pairs at the Rio Olympics can consider themselves duly warned.