The main goal of this paper is to provide insights into swash flow dynamics, generated by a non-breaking solitary wave on a steep slope. Both laboratory experiments and numerical simulations are conducted to investigate the details of runup and rundown processes. Special attention is given to the evolution of the bottom boundary layer over the slope in terms of flow separation, vortex formation and the development of a hydraulic jump during the rundown phase. Laboratory experiments were performed to measure the flow velocity fields by means of high-speed particle image velocimetry (HSPIV). Detailed pathline patterns of the swash flows and free-surface profiles were also visualized. Highly resolved computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulations were carried out. Numerical results are compared with laboratory measurements with a focus on the velocities inside the boundary layer. The overall agreement is excellent during the initial stage of the runup process. However, discrepancies in the model/data comparison grow as time advances because the numerical model does not simulate the shoreline dynamics accurately. Introducing small temporal and spatial shifts in the comparison yields adequate agreement during the entire rundown process. Highly resolved numerical solutions are used to study physical variables that are not measured in laboratory experiments (e.g. pressure field and bottom shear stress). It is shown that the main mechanism for vortex shedding is correlated with the large pressure gradient along the slope as the rundown flow transitions from supercritical to subcritical, under the developing hydraulic jump. Furthermore, the bottom shear stress analysis indicates that the largest values occur at the shoreline and that the relatively large bottom shear stress also takes place within the supercritical flow region, being associated with the backwash vortex system rather than the plunging wave. It is clearly demonstrated that the combination of laboratory observations and numerical simulations have indeed provided significant insights into the swash flow processes.