Swarthmore's earliest known involvement in academic competition came in 1959, when a team from the school appeared on the TV quiz show "College Bowl." Swat was a three-time champion, defeating Southern Methodist Univ., Holy Cross, and Ohio St., before falling to Missouri-Columbia. Nine years later, Swarthmore made a triumphant return to the airwaves and was a five-time champion on the show.
A northeastern/mid-Atlantic intercollegiate quiz bowl circuit began to emerge many years later, and a Swarthmore team was founded the year of 1989-1990. Among the early leaders of the club were Susan McCready and Stephen Gordon (proclaimed team captain the first year because he was the oldest, a junior, and old enough to drive the van). In 1992, the club started its own invitational, QOTC, which was named by Adam Fagen, another early leader, for the creek that runs through campus. The team became affiliated with CBI during this period; in 1994, Swarthmore placed third in ACUI's Region 3 quiz bowl championship. Players on the team included Chris Welser, Patrick Friel, and Mark Kernighan.
Since then, Swarthmore has been an active presence on the quiz bowl circuit and (increasingly) a national contender. In 1997, Swarthmore placed 26th at the inaugural NAQT Intercollegiate Championship, and won its first invitational (at Princeton Univ.'s BuzzerFest). In 1998, the team won the first NAQT undergraduate title and placed first at the MIT tournament; in 1999, Swat placed second in NAQT's undergraduate championship. Swarthmore also currently hosts SNEWT, a junior bird tournament.