This Month in Sports Rehabilitation: Youth Swimming (Jan. 2012)

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Swimmers Clinic

UW Health Sports Medicine Swimmers Clinic: Young girl in a poolSwimmers often begin their competitive careers as early as 7 years old. Most swimmers train and compete year-round and perform a great number of overhead arm motions in the course of a normal practice week.


Swimmers may complete as many as 16,000 shoulder revolutions in a one-week period1. Elite swimmers older than 13 years typically perform up to one million shoulder revolutions per year2. By comparison, a baseball or tennis player will have about 1,000 shoulder revolutions per week.


Although swimming is, by most standards, not a sport associated with high risk of injury, it does have a high rate of “overuse” injuries to the shoulder. Approximately 50 percent of competitive swimmers will develop shoulder pain severe enough to cause them to alter their training schedule at some point during their swimming career.


Injury prevention requires a thorough understanding of freestyle swimming biomechanics and pathomechanics as well as the appropriate exercises that produce the muscle "balance" needed to reduce injury risk. Appropriate strength and flexibility training programs, stroke technique, and correction drills may improve swimmer performance and reduce injury risk in the developing youth swimmer.


Free Seminar: Feb. 13 from 6:30-8:30pm


On February 13, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm UW Health Sports Medicine will host a free seminar, "Swimming Mechanics: Foundations for Health and Performance Seminar," for area youth swimmers ages 9-18 years old. Sports Rehabilitation specialists Dan Enz and Beth Chorlton will discuss the importance of proper freestyle swimming mechanics, common stroke faults and corrective drills.


The seminar will begin with 25-minute lecture followed by 90 minutes in the pool area. The pool portion will include three breakout groups:

  • Freestyle stroke evaluation (one specific component, not full analysis) with an under- and over-water video capture system, providing immediate review and feedback
  • Freestyle corrective drills (one specific component of stroke)
  • Dryland training ideas for preparation for performance and recovery for injury prevention.

Swimmers Clinic at UW Health Sports Rehabilitation


Our team of Swimmers Clinic rehabilitation specialists perform above-water and underwater evaluation of stroke biomechanics in addition to a thorough musculoskeletal examination to address swimming related injuries. A treatment plan may include drills to correct stroke faults, training recommendations, and/or exercises to normalize strength, flexibility, and posture. Our Sports Rehabilitation staff also collaborates with Sports Medicine physicians for comprehensive and efficient injury care.


Learn more about the Swimmers Clinic



  1. Pink M, Jobe F. (1996): Biomechanics of swimming, in Zachazewski JE, Magee DJ, Quillen WS: Athletic Injuries and Rehabilitation. Philadelphia, Saunders. 317
  2. Welden, E.J., Richardson, A.B. Upper extremity overuse injuries in swimming. Clin Sports Med. 2001;20:423-438.
  3. McMaster W.C., Troup, J.: A survey of interfering shoulder pain in United States competitive swimming. Am J Sports Med 1993;2(1):67-70