Swaelen studied Rights at the Catholic University of Leuven . From 1956 to 1966 he was General Secretary of the National Confederation of Parents' Associations (NCOV). In this role he was also involved in the discussions which the School Pact originated. From 1956 to 1964 he was a member of the national bureau of the CVP and youth from 1964 to 1966 he was chairman of it. From 1966 to 1976 he was general political secretary of the CVP.
In 1968 he became a member of parliament . Swaelen was also active in local politics, and from 1971 to 1988 he was mayor of Hove . He ensured that the town center was converted from an old cobblestone road to a modern wide boulevard . There were several new housing estates in the municipality (NLM district allotment behind the town hall ). Hove got a sports hall and a cultural center. Political analysts say he caused the minor to the Court in 1976 municipal mergers escaped.
In 1973 he became a member of the Board of Directors of Crédit Communal Belgium to in 1986 for a period of eight years, Chairman of being.
Though the education specialist was his party, he became in 1980 Secretary of Defense under Martens IV . The following year he traded the function of Chairman of the CVP. There he remained until 1988, the year he President of the Senate was. In that capacity, he served the Rwanda -committee. A stain on his presidency is the meeting at which Albert II took the oath as King and libertine Jean-Pierre Van Rossem session disrupted by "Vive la République d'Europe, vive Julien Lahaut " call.
In 1995 he was asked by the king to Secretary of State appointed. In 1999 he retired from active politics after he had led. Senate for over a decade He remained chairman of Charlemagne College and the IT company Real Software in Kontich .
In late 2007 Frank died Swaelen at the age of 77 in Antwerp . Several politicians, including Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt , Swaelen praised for his contributions to the Belgian and international politics . CD & V interim president Etienne Schouppe called him a "great Christian Democrat leader".