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Introduction

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Swimming has become one of the most popular sports in the world. The level of swimming competition ranges from friendly races at the “old swimming hole” all the way up to world competition, including the Olympics. Men’s swimming has been featured in the Olympic games since 1896.1 The first Olympic events were the freestyle or breastroke.1 The backstroke was added in 1904.1 Women’s swimming became an Olympic event in 1912.1 Swimming frequently begins at a very early age, with swimmers as young as 7 years old competing through local park and recreation programs and at YMCAs, Jewish Community Centers, and swim clubs throughout the United States. These swimming programs form the foundation of competitive swimming in the United States and produce many of the athletes who end up swimming for American colleges or the US Olympic teams.2 Most beginning athletes in the sport of swimming excel due to natural talents and inherent athletic ability. Athletes who advance through the ranks of competitive team swimming to become elite high school and college swimmers will find that natural talents alone are not enough to keep them competitive and soon training and coaching become significant factors of success. Injuries are common in competitive swimming and can limit the degree of success achieved or the length of a swimmer’s career.

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Since the 1990s, swimming has increased in popularity among recreational athletes, as well as in high school and college sports. The number of athletes competing in recreational in multievent sports such as triathlons also has increased significantly since 1990, with competitors ranging in age from preteens to master-level athletes. Competitive swimming is well known for early morning and late afternoon practices in chilly water, with the highest level of competitive swimmers often participating in up to 10 to 12 two-hour training sessions per week. In addition, most of these athletes also participate in a weight training, running, or cycling program, which may involve 30-minute to 1-hour training sessions an additional three times per week.3,4,5 This combination of intense dry-land and swimming training ultimately will have a cumulative effect on both the physical conditioning of the athlete and the propensity to injury due to the physical stresses on the body.

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The majority of the injuries seen among swimmers are minor injuries such as bumps, bruises, and lacerations from slips and falls around the pool.2 Swimmers are also subject to injuries to the face and head and fractures of the heels associated with accidental contact with the walls of the pool, especially when attempting flip turns.3 These injuries are treated most frequently with common first aid and normally will not interfere with the swimmer’s training, unless they are problems that stem from overuse or repetitive trauma.6 Areas of the body most commonly affected are the shoulder, elbow, knee, ankle, neck, and back. This chapter will look at common injuries ...

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