The Star Power of These NCAA Championships is Unprecedented

Photo Courtesy: David Bernal Photography

By Alec Scott Swimming World College Intern

The women’s NCAA Division I championships this week feature some of the biggest stars in our sport. I’m only 24 years old, but I can’t remember a year where the meet was so deep and loaded with top-end talent that some of the best swimmers in the country have flown a bit under the radar.

The competition is highlighted by the top swimmer on the planet in Katie Ledecky and fellow Olympic gold medalists Simone Manuel, Lilly King, Kathleen Baker, Olivia Smoliga, Abbey Weitzeil, Leah Smith and Cierra Runge as well as silver medalists Lia Neal and Chantal Van Landeghem.


Photo Courtesy: USA TODAY Sports

The meet is so deep that American-record holders like Ella Eastin and Ally Howe aren’t even the biggest names on their own team. Studs like Mallory Comerford, Madisyn Cox, Sydney Pickrem and Smith could swim jaw dropping times and leave without winning an individual title.

Looking at the 100 butterfly, one of the few events without an Olympic medalist, the depth is astonishing. At the 2014 women’s NCAA Championships, Felicia Lee won the 100 butterfly in 50.89, Kelsi Worrell was the only other swimmer in the field to dip under the 51 second barrier and she did it in the prelims. There are nine women seeded with a time below 51 seconds at the 2017 NCAA Championships led by Stanford’s Janet Hu at 50.38. Lee’s 2014 winning time would be seeded eighth just behind North Carolina’s Hellen Moffitt, who comes into this year’s meet with a 50.86.

Howe, Ally-5

Ally Howe, Photo Courtesy: David Farr

Howe’s 49.69 American-record in the 100 backstroke is so fast that it will be an upset if either of the U.S. Olympians, Baker or Smoliga, touch the wall ahead of her in the event.

Ledecky has taken the 500 and mile to such an absurd level that no matter how fast Smith swims behind her, it may be lost on the crowd. Smith could easily become the second fastest performer in history in both and finish second by some distance, but these accomplishments should be judged on their own merit.

Comerford is one of the most promising young freestylers in America, but she will most likely have to go through Olympic champions Ledecky or Manuel to win an individual title this year.

2016.03.18 2016 Womens NCAA Swimming Championships_Louisville Mallory Comerford

Mallory Comerford, Photo Courtesy: Reagan Lunn/Georgia Tech Athletics

This week, let’s take the time to appreciate the greatness we are about to witness. This is inarguably going to be one of, if not the premiere championship events in swimming this year. When the world’s best swimmer and three other individual Olympic medalists opt to remain amateur to participate in this season and more specifically this meet, it shows just how much the top athletes value this competition. Let’s show them how much we value what they do for our sport.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Morning Splash: 18 Races, 18 Bold Predictions for Women’s NCAA Championships

Photos Courtesy: Peter H. Bick & Matt Rubel

By David Rieder.

The women’s NCAA championships have arrived. Just a few hours from now, the competition pool at the IUPUI Natatorium will play host to the 800 free relays at the women’s NCAA championships.

At this point, you are probably previewed-out and ready to see some actual racing. (If you’re not, here’s a big-picture view of the NCAA meets, a scoring projection breakdown, a diving analysis and two episodes of Off Deck devoted exclusively to the women’s meet.)

But before the 6 p.m. session start time tonight, we’ve got time for a few race-by-race predictions. So without further comment, here’s one man’s thoughts on who will win (and finish second and third) in the 13 individual events and five relay this week.

Day One

800 Free Relay
1. Stanford
2. Cal
3. USC
*American and NCAA record on alert, even if Simone Manuel sits out.

Day Two

200 Free Relay
1. Stanford
2. Cal
3. Georgia
*Farida Osman could not hold off Manuel on the anchor leg at Pac-12s. Will it happen again?

500 Free
1. Katie Ledecky, Stanford
2. Leah Smith, Virginia
3. Cierra Runge, Wisconsin
*Is 4:24 realistic for Ledecky? And could another woman (Smith?) join Ledecky under 4:30?

200 IM
1. Ella Eastin, Stanford
2. Kathleen Baker, Cal
3. Madisyn Cox, Texas
*Contrast in strategy among top three should make for interesting race.

50 Free
1. Simone Manuel, Stanford
2. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal
3. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia
*Defending NCAA champion Smoliga is a heavy underdog coming in.

400 Medley Relay
1. Stanford
2. Cal
3. Indiana
*Lilly King will give Indiana almost a two-second advantage on breaststroke.

Day Three

400 IM
1. Ella Eastin, Stanford
2. Sydney Pickrem, Texas A&M
3. Madisyn Cox, Texas
*No Ledecky, no problem for Stanford, as Eastin could challenge Ledecky’s American record and Allie Szekely could also score big here.

100 Fly
1. Noemie Thomas, Cal
2. Janet Hu, Stanford
3. Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M
*Louise Hansson, Farida Osman, Gia Dalesandro and Hellen Moffitt all in contention to win the meet’s most wide-open race.

200 Free
1. Katie Ledecky, Stanford
2. Simone Manuel, Stanford
3. Mallory Comerford, Louisville
*Teammates Ledecky and Manuel could push each other under 1:40.

100 Breast
1. Lilly King, Indiana
2. Andrea Cottrell, Louisville
3. Laura Simon, Virginia
*King will win big, but other places open for taking. Missouri’s Katharine Ross is a darkhorse.

100 Back
1. Ally Howe, Stanford
2. Kathleen Baker, Cal
3. Olivia Smoliga, Georgia
*Can others join Howe below the 50-second barrier?

200 Medley Relay
1. Stanford
2. Cal
3. Arizona
*Young Wildcats will threaten the top two.

Day Four

1650 Free
1. Katie Ledecky, Stanford
2. Leah Smith, Virginia
3. G Ryan, Michigan
*Who does not get lapped by Ledecky?

200 Back
1. Kathleen Baker, Cal
2. Janet Hu, Stanford
3. Danielle Galyer, Kentucky
*Defending champion Galyer enters seeded 10th. The American record (Elizabeth Pelton, 1:47.84) could come under fire.

100 Free
1. Simone Manuel, Stanford
2. Abbey Weitzeil, Cal
3. Mallory Comerford, Louisville
*Speaking of records, a sub-46-second swim might be possible.

200 Breast
1. Lilly King, Indiana
2. Kierra Smith, Minnesota
3. Sydney Pickrem, Texas A&M
*King will go for it on the first 100, and Smith has unmatched closing speed, setting up a tight finish.

200 Fly
1. Ella Eastin, Stanford
2. Katie McLaughlin, Cal
3. Sarah Gibson, Texas A&M
*Eastin’s underwater skills and closing speed will be hard to match.

400 Free Relay
1. Stanford
2. USC
3. Georgia
*Unless something drastic changes, the Cardinal will have already wrapped up the team title at this point.

Agree? Of course you don’t. Honestly, even as I read back through what I wrote, I’m having plenty of doubts. Expect tight races and at least someone I mentioned here to get locked out of the A-final.

Leave comments below to tell me where I went wrong and, more importantly, what you think will actually happen.

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Sierra Schmidt, Matthew Hirschberger Dominate Distance Events on Night One of the 2017 NCSA Junior Nationals

The 2017 NCSA Junior Nationals kicked off tonight in Orlando, Florida. The night consisted of the short course distance events and the 200 freestyle and medley relays.

Sierra Schmidt, representing Club Wolverine, kicked off the meet with a commanding win in the women’s 1000. Her time of 9:35.06 was a drop of over eight seconds and was three seconds faster than second place finisher, Madison Homovich. Homovich, a 16 year old from Marlins of Raleigh, touched in 9:38.16 behind Schmidt. Third place went to Hinsdale’s Logan Shiller, who finished in 9:45.43.

The men’s 1000 went to Nation’s Capital’s Matthew Hirschberger. Hirschberger broke the nine minute barrier for the first time in 8:55.32, a 12 second drop from his seed time. Last year’s champion, 16 year old Robert Freeman of Baylor, finished second in 8:56.30. This was a second drop from his winning time from last year. The Naval Academy Aquatic Club’s William Iv Roberts finished third in 9:03.23.

In the women’s 200 freestyle relay, the Aquajets Swim Team finished first. Carly Quast (23.33), Abigail Kapeller (22.96), Alexis Schaaf (22.97), and Rachel Wittmer (22.68) teamed up for a time of 1:31.94. Second place went to Abigail Harter (23.62), Jasmine Hellmer (22.97), Phoebe Bacon (23.01), and Katelyn Mack (22.46) of Nation’s Capital. There time was 1:32.06. The Academy Bullets team of Kayla Filipek (23.18), Hannah Blankemeier (22.96), Jennifer Hauser (23.11), and Athena Ye (23.38) was third in 1:32.63.

On the men’s side, Machine Aquatics took the win. Thomas Hallock (20.14), Christian Ginieczki (20.31), Casey Storch (20.82), and Jayaprakash Kambhampaty (20.87) swam to a time of 1:22.14. Cody Bybee (20.55), Connor Blatt (20.43), Evan Stapp (20.84), and Eric Knowles (20.59) of Dayton Raiders finished second in 1:22.41. They just out touched the Cincinnati Marlins team of Nicholas Perera (21.25), Alexander Wade (20.91), Luke Sobolewski (20.27), and Justin Grender (20.00) who finished third in 1:22.43.

The Nation’s Capital women claimed the women’s 200 medley relay. Bacon (25.10), Harter (28.13), Isabella Gati (24.95), and Mack (22.07) combined to go 1:40.25. Close behind them was the Aquajets Swim Team. Quast (25.33), Martha Haas (28.61), Schaaf (24.08), and Wittmer (22.49) finished in 1:40.51. Third place went to Kathleen Moore (25.55), Abigail Arens (28.94), Homovich (24.30), and Grace Countie (22.47) of Marlins of Raleigh in 1:41.26.

The men’s 200 medley relay results are unavailable due to a DQ in question. The final results will be uploaded once these results are available.

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Colleen Driscoll: A Leader to Lean On

Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

By Maddie Strasen, Swimming World College Intern

Collen Driscoll propelled herself to the starting blocks, leaned her crutches behind the timers and hopped up on the blocks, awaiting the horn. Making her turns on one foot, there was no way she would contend for victories or personal best times, and she knew it. That, however, is not what this was about in her final meet of the season – conference championships.


Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

A true test of character can be the ability to follow one’s own advice. At the start of the year, one of my closest friends and teammates on both my club and college swimming teams gave me a list of pointers for the upcoming season, encouraging me to take advantage of the opportunities the sport has to offer and to throw myself into everything I do.

That friend and teammate is Driscoll, a University of Vermont sophomore who constantly inspires me with her ability to uphold her morals and follow her own advice, even in the toughest of times.

Our team was forced, in early January, to flee from the Fort Lauderdale Airport as an armed gunman was apprehended after killing five people. We had been scheduled to fly from our training trip in South Florida to a dual meet in Maryland, but wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In the course of running, getting pushed and shoved and trying to move as quickly as possible, Colleen injured her foot. She was forced to keep running and moving quickly for more than two miles alongside panicked teammates and civilians. Fighting through the pain but still unsure of the severity of the injury after we were safely bused away from the airport, Colleen was taken to a hospital where she received the news: she had suffered multiple breaks to the bones in her foot.

Teammate Kelly Lennon, a junior who accompanied Colleen to hospital that day, remembers Colleen’s ability to stay strong. “Watching Colleen before we got in the ambulance and at the hospital, you would’ve never guessed that her foot was broken in three different places,” Lennon stated. “I just remember looking at her in the hospital and thinking ‘I would have been a mess if I were in her spot,’ and how much of a mess I already was without a broken foot.”

She admits that Colleen was the one helping her stay strong through the stressful events of that day. “She was squeezing my hand, which is a running joke we have usually reserved for coaches mid meet speeches, to offset the pain of doctors poking at her ‘very broken’ foot, but little did she know that she was the one giving me strength at that moment.”


Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lennon

How she handled the entirety of the situation was nothing short of courageous. Her outlook on the rest of the season and her ability to take action was unbelievably inspiring.

Unable to return to any training right away, Colleen was able to spend a few days at home in Tampa, but quickly returned to Vermont for the spring semester and the final push of training before our conference meet. Colleen was told her season was over by doctors and her peers. Our trainers and coaches may have felt hesitant to let her train based on the severity of her injury. However, Colleen refused to believe that her hard work wasn’t going to pay off.

Since I met Colleen in 2014, she has always been the hardest worker in the pool. I used to be terrified of her because, honestly, she probably could have lapped me in warm up (she still does sometimes). A true leader by example, you will never catch Colleen putting partial effort into anything. She has an “all-in” attitude all the time.

In what seemed like just a few days, Colleen was back in the weight room with the team, doing everything she could to maintain her strength. She was back in the pool, using a pull buoy and doing one-legged turns.


Photo Courtesy: Jennifer Cournoyer

It’s difficult to judge what any singular person would do in Colleen’s situation. We’d like to tell ourselves that we would continue to work hard and strive toward our goals. Considering the extent of the injury, however, many of us would probably turn off our alarm clocks, pull the covers over our heads and tell ourselves that there’s always next season—that there’s nothing more to be done.

Colleen refused to dim the spark in her eyes in the face of adversity. Sticking with training could not have been easy. Watching the rest of the team prepare for conferences just how she planned to prepare couldn’t have been anything but devastating. Eventually, the time came for conference championships and, to the surprise of everyone, Colleen was entered in the maximum number of individual events.

Colleen inspired an entire natatorium full of people that weekend. Approaching every event on her crutches and with the confidence to race her heart out was incredibly emotional to watch. Not expecting personal bests, not expecting close races, not expecting recognition. Purely for the thrill of racing and, more importantly, her love for the sport. She was able to leave every race—after picking up her crutches—knowing that she left everything she had in the pool.


Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

She might have needed crutches to walk, but Colleen was truly our team’s crutch throughout the entire season. Her hard work both before and after her injury encourages teammates to stretch themselves to their fullest potential. She shows us not to take for granted any time spent training, racing, or working to improve oneself. She reminds us that the sport is about hard work, dedication and loving what you do.


Photo Courtesy: Katie Arend

The words here do not give Colleen’s triumph enough justice. I don’t think any of us can even begin to imagine the frustration Colleen experienced and still experiences on a daily basis. However, her ability to stay strong through hardship gives us all some perspective on what this sport is all about.

Colleen—Thank you for inspiring us. Thank you for reminding us what’s important in our sport and in our lives. You are the embodiment of hard work, dedication, strength and passion. You show us that we can all work a little harder and push a little farther.


Photo Courtesy: Hannah Dahlin

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Clemson to Discontinue Women’s Diving Program, Effective Immediately

The Clemson women’s diving program is no more, the school announced in a press release. According to Athletic Director Dan Radakovich, the school is eliminating that program to make way for the introduction of a softball team.

“Any time changes to sport offerings are made, it can be difficult for current student-athletes and coaches, as well as for our former letterwinners. I want to express our gratitude to Coach Leslie Hasselbach-Adams and the young women in our program for the way they’ve represented our university and competed with integrity and class,” Radakovich said in the release.

The decision comes five years after Clemson’s swim teams and its men’s diving team were ended after the 2012 season. At the time, the school decided to keep women’s diving, and that program has remained stable for five years.

While the decision to cut the swimming program came with two years’ notice, this one is effective immediately, as the team’s season has ended.

The decision to discontinue a sport is a difficult one, and was made with a great deal of thought and consideration. The decision impacts student-athletes, our coaches, families and alumni. Ultimately, the challenges of supporting a highly competitive diving program with our geographic disadvantage and the absence of a full swim program proved to be too great to overcome,” Radakovich said.

Radakovich also noted that current divers will be allowed to transfer and be eligible to compete immediately at another school, or they could remain at Clemson with their scholarships and student-athlete benefits in tact.

Read the full release from Clemson by clicking here.

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Off Deck, March 14, 2017: Women’s NCAA Preview, Part Two

Photo Courtesy: Chuckarelei / Pac-12

In the final day before the beginning of the women’s NCAA championships, Swimming World’s David Rieder and Dan D’Addona return on this episode of Off Deck to analyze the top race-by-race storylines of the meet.

Rieder and D’Addona went in-depth in discussing Katie Ledecky’s event lineup and what she might accomplish in her three freestyle races, the challenges Lilly King faces in the two breaststroke events, whether anyone can join Ally Howe under the 50-second barrier in the 100 back and what other records might be broken in Indianapolis.

Watch the full episode below.

For an analysis of the team battle, check out part one of the women’s NCAA preview series.

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Merle Liivand Hosting FINIS Cup as She Preps for World Champs

Photo Courtesy: Rob Hardie

Merle Liivand is a woman with many talents. The 25-year-old Estonian female swimmer just keeps carrying on the love of swimming while multitasking. A Professional Mermaid who stands behind swimmers, athletes and coaches is not afraid to explore and work hard outside the water as much she works inside water.

In October she represented Estonia at the Pentathlon World Championships while taking home 13th place in the world. In November she became a Florida Winter champion in the 200-yard breaststroke. Her resume is growing tremendously, and in an interview with Swimming World Magazine she explained how important is to her to give back.

As a Mermaid, athlete, triathlete, ambassador, Covergirl to Dremasport, entrepreneur she has strong understanding how to help the sport of swimming and host events.

“I have been around competitions and work everyday life with coaches, officials and sport companies who wanna make Sport more exciting. It’s honor to be around sport and get better as an athlete but at the same time it hasn’t been easy to find competitions where to compete. Sometimes the best practice mentally and physically is actually in the competition atmosphere. That’s why I am excited to announce that there is a FINIS CUP-International Swim meet in Estonia,” explains Merle.

FINIS CUP takes place in an ascent University city called Tartu, Estonia. The meet will be held in a 50-meter swimming pool and takes place at 13-14. May,2017.

The two-day event is a FINA sanctioned and runs under host club Tartu SwimClub ( TUK ) .

“As I am currently focusing towards the Budapest World Championship and already represented Estonia in a FINA Junior Worlds in 2008 in Monterrey, I know how important and struggling is to make cuts. There is nothing more honoring than representing your own country at the International level! But I have recognized there is not enough chances around Europe. That’s why FINIS CUP gives a great opportunity  for the athletes and coaches who are chasing cut times for the Budapest or Juniors!” says Liivand

“I am delighted to help with my company Swimera and host club TUK, who works so hard to put together great event, another fellow athletes and coaches. Together with FINIS we have many exciting things going on so definitely the great place to be in this May is ESTONIA!”

Merle is already focusing and training to represent Estonia this summer 5K and 10K Open Water in Budapest World Championships, Hungary.

Press release courtesy of Swimera.

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Passages: Hall of Fame Coach Buddy Baarcke, Jr. Passes Away At 85

Buddy Baaracke – First American To Set A World Record In the Butterfly Stroke

On March 10th, 2017, Mr. Leonide Alfred (Buddy) Baarcke, Junior, 85, of Dahlonega, GA, passed awayafter a short illness.

Baarcke graduated from Suwanee Military Academy in 1949, where he began his competitive swimming career. From there he went to the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and continued to swim competitively.  It was at that time he began his coaching career. He graduated from UNC in 1953, was drafted into the Army and served two years. He continued to swim competitively while in the service.

In 1954 he was the first American to set a world record in the butterfly stroke. Buddy was a college assistant coach for 10 years (UNC and UF) and a club coach for 40 years. He coached many Olympic medalists, national senior champions, and national age group champions.

In September of 2016, Buddy was inducted into the American Swim Coaches Association’s coaching Hall of Fame after being involved in the sport for over eight decades.

Swimming World Captured Coach Buddy Baarcke’s Induction Ceremony With This Exclusive Video

In 1962 Buddy was nationally recognized by Swimming World Magazine as Coach of the Month.  Read about The Tiger of the South in the September 1962 issue.


Photo Courtesy: Swimming World Magazine

Buddy is survived by his sister, Susan B. Bryan and her husband, Judge John N. Bryan, his sister, Rebecca B. Forehand, his niece, Sandy B. Vitalis and her husband, Colonel Greg Vitalis, his niece, Betsy F. Green and her husband, Richard W. Green, Sr., his great nieces and nephews, Rich Green, Jack Bryan, Rebecca Green, and Kate Bryan. Buddy is preceded in death by his father, Leonide A. Baarcke, Sr., his mother, Olive W. Baarcke, his brother-in-law, Lee R. Forehand, his nephew, Lee W. Forehand, and his nephew, John N. (Nat) Bryan.

Arrangements are being handled by Dahlonega Funeral Home and a memorial service will be held at a later date. contributed to this article.

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LGBTQ Inclusion in Sports and Swimming; USA Swimming Resource Guide

Photo Courtesy: Bri Groves

LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer or questioning. Inclusivity in sports is crucial for individuals’ mental and physical well-being, yet only about one quarter (23.2%) of LGBTQ students participate in interscholastic sports, making them half as likely as their peers to engage in athletics (23.2% vs. 47.8%).

This participation gap is magnified by the nature of swimming, which has traditionally been less accessible, largely exclusive, and a gender binary sport.

LGBTQ athletes may experience discomfort for a variety of factors ranging from oppression to sport convention. Strict bathing suit styles often lead to gender assumptions while navigating locker room facilities and dynamics can be equally challenging. Although these factors may influence an LGBTQ athlete’s participation or lack thereof, social interactions and norms are often the determining factor in choosing an extracurricular activity.

To help raise awareness and facilitate inclusive environments, I’ve compiled some common LGBTQ questions and ways to promote positive team dynamics:

Why don’t more LGBTQ athletes and coaches come out?

LGBTQ athletes and coaches often keep their identities a secret because they want to avoid being discriminated against or oppressed. Coming out may distract from an individual’s athletic accomplishments and put them in the public spotlight for their sexuality or gender identification rather than their individual or their team performance.

Inclusive non-discrimination policies and educational programs for athletic staff and athletes helps to reduce these risks and promote a safer climate for LGBTQ athletes and coaches to identify themselves.

Will having “out” athletes or coaches affect team dynamics?

No single response can adequately answer this question. Some teams improve their team dynamics after learning that one of their members is queer; it draws the team together and this attribute may boost performance. Some teams do not respond well or have divided opinions to having an openly LGBTQ member and their ability to cooperate suffers. A team’s response is facilitated by its leaders, how supportive they are, how they integrate this new information into team operations, and how they set expectations for respectful interactions.

How are LGBT athletes discriminated against in sports?

LGBT athletes may experience oppression through repeated microaggressions, name-calling, rumors, and others avoiding contact with them. Some coaches encourage LGBTQ athletes to keep their identities hidden or even change their sexual orientation. In extreme cases, LGBTQ athletes are physically threatened, their property is vandalized, and they endure long-term psychological effects. Legislatively, some teams and coaches have policies that discourage or inhibit LGBTQ participation or do not give fair coaching attention.

How does discrimination against LGBTQ people affect straight athletes and coaches?

The repeated stigmatization of LGBTQ individuals has led many people to go to extreme lengths in hopes of avoiding association with lesbians and gay men by monitoring their appearance, mannerisms, and relationships with peers.

In women’s sports, the lesbian label is an unjustified method for discouraging women from challenging inequities between men’s and women’s sports. If women fear being labelled as lesbians, this can be an effective way to intimidate women into accepting less than equal treatment. Women may feel an overwhelming urge to appear feminine and accept traditionally women-allocated roles and rights to distinguish themselves from stereotyped feminists and activists.

Likewise, male athletes may feel pressured to verbally and physically express their heterosexuality to avoid oppression and fit normative categories. When athletes express hatred of or engage in violence against marginalized individuals, they are acting on irrational fears and prejudice rather than reason.

When people participate in the oppression against any group based on stereotypes and fears, they diminish themselves and others at their expense.  For this reason, it is more important that individuals in the majority group challenge social norms and promote equity.

What steps should be taken to improve LGBTQ inclusion and wellbeing?

Create a safe space where athletes of all identities feel comfortable expressing themselves and interacting with others.

Educate coaches, athletes, staff, parents, and all involved individuals on diversity and inclusion.

Prepare for common scenarios, including discussion, confrontation, “coming out” and other experiences where individuals may exhibit differing comfort levels.

Eliminate oppression through anti-discrimination policies, combating microagressions, and ensuring equity.

Externally indicate support by standing up, speaking out, updating team policies to reflect LGBTQ appropriate language, and displaying equality symbols.

Go over gender pronouns with all athletes to ensure everyone knows how to address one another respectfully.

Ensure facility policies accommodate all individuals and that policies are easily accessible to all users.

Provide competition guidelines prior to meet entry and make sure there is a general team understanding.

Enforce anti-discriminatory policies with consistency and go over compliance throughout the season.

Resources & Research

USA Swimming LGBTQ Cultural Inclusion Resource Guide

NCAA LGBTQ Resources

Inclusion of LGBTQ Student-Athletes and Staff in NCAA Programs

GLSEN Research: The Experiences of LGBT Students in School Athletics

Research Summary: United States of America on Homophobia in Sports

Human Rights Campaign: Growing Up LGBT in America

Student-Athlete Engagement in LGBTQ Ally Actions

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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Swimmer’s Shoulder Off-season Guide

Photo Courtesy: G. John Mullen/COR

By Dr. G. John Mullen, Swimming World Contributor.

The swimming “off-season” or spring break is around the corner for many in the swimming community. Although, not everyone is having a break (sorry high school swimmers whose swim season has just started), this period is a great opportunity to improve cranky shoulders!

Yes, I know I talk about cranky swimmer’s shoulders a lot, but it is a serious issue and one which is even under reported. Too often swimmer’s assume shoulder pain is normal and repeat “no pain, no gain”.  This mindset can feed into further problems, injuries, and disinterest in the sport.

A study in 2013 found the following:

“Overall, 85 percent of high school-aged club swimmers reported mild shoulder pain in the past year, 61 percent reported moderate shoulder pain, and 21 percent reported severe shoulder pain. Of these, only 14 percent had been to a physician. Seventy-three percent report using pain medication to manage their shoulder pain and 47 percent used it regularly, as in one or more times per week (Hibberd 2013).”

Not seeking treatment and masking pain with pain medication isn’t a viable long-term solution. If you are entering your off-season, consider these 6 tips for swimmer’s shoulder during the “off-season”.

1. Balance the Unbalanced with Strengthening

Swimming creates imbalances early in a swimmer’s career. Each time a swimmer creates a catch in the water, they are performing an aggressive internal rotation of the shoulder (and most likely an uncontrolled protraction of the shoulder blade). Creating a simple off-season training program focusing on improving the imbalances is a great place to start! Just make sure you are not just flying through through the exercises and are actually contracting the correct muscles!

Too often swimmers will only perform band exercises, with incorrect muscular contraction. Make sure you are activating the correct muscles and building the “mind-muscle” connection, the neural connection!

Now, every swimmer is different, so exact guidelines are not possible, but overall, I suggest performing ~2 – 3 scapular retraction exercises, combined with 2 – 3 external rotation exercises for a well balanced strengthening program.

Below are a few examples:

Scapular Retraction Exercises

If you want to learn more about shoulder pain and if it is on the rise, check this out!

2. Fix Your Overcompensated Muscles

Swimming doesn’t only create imbalances via weakness, but also tightness. In fact, tight muscles can cause weakness as well! Even minimal tightness can alter performance or at least bioemechanics at the end of practice. Here are a few helpful areas to work on:

3. Don’t Forget to Improve Your Spine…

It is easy to over stress the importance of the shoulder during prevention or rehabilitation, but often the neck and spine play a vital role! The neck is often too far forward in swimmer’s posture [don’t forget to checkout this piece].

Here are a few tips to improve your spine!

4. Perform Post-Season Needs Analysis and Plan for Improvement

The post-season is a great time for assessment, evaluation, and planning. Too often swimmers will perform their taper meet, then simply assume the training either worked, didn’t, or perhaps they hit/missed their taper. However, a more detailed analysis can provide much more beneficial information. For example, analyzing your race, race strategy, biomechanics, and fatigue points can provide great benefit for improving yourself at the next big meet.

This can done with your coach or online services. Swimming Science provides a very detailed analysis of your race, comparing it to Olympic medalist and providing specifics for improvement.
You may wonder how this influences shoulder stress, but imagine, if your race strategy results in fatiguing prematurely, you’ll have improper biomechanics for a longer period of time and increase your risk of injury. Also, race footage provides essential information of a swimmer’s technique at a true maximal effort. Plan, train, analyze, set a plan for improvement, swim and repeat.

5. Rest/Meditate/Incantation

Sometimes simply taking rest is the correct remedy for the shoulders. However, this laid back strategy often isn’t enough. Beginning a daily meditation or incantation practice can reduce stress and anxiety, areas which can foster or worsen orthopedic pain. Beginning these practices is great in the off-season when swimmer’s have more time on their hands.

6. Perform an Off-Season Activity

For some, particularly youth swimmers, performing a complimentary or other activity can help improve imbalances, reduce mental stress, and be fun! When determining a secondary activity, remember anything is better than nothing! However, doing sports with similar demands (water polo) can exacerbate imbalances. Try and think of other activities which can challenge the swimmer and improve muscular imbalances.

Consider some of these:

  • Guided resistance training
  • Rock climbing
  • Karate
  • Ballet
  • Play outside
  • Do something

As a swimming community, we can’t ignore injury risks. We know many swimmers will have shoulder pain and injury within the sport, this is the risk within the sport. Like all sports, risk exists, therefore addressing aches and pains early and providing proper injury prevention is key for elite performance and long-term success. Stay healthy this “off-season” and make improvements at the same time!

For more tips, check out the COR Swimmer’s Shoulder System! For other tips on improving your swimming, check this out

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff. All swimming and dryland training and instruction should be performed under the supervision of a qualified coach or instructor, and in circumstances that ensure the safety of participants.

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