I am currently providing medical care to the U.S. Olympic swimming team in London. After a domestic training camp in Knoxville, Tennessee, we left the U.S. on July 14 and went to France for a pre-Games training camp. The training camp provides an opportunity for focused training, development of team camaraderie, and also allows adjustment to the time zone. Jet lag can definitely affect performance, so we travel well in advance of the competition dates in order to allow acclimation. We then traveled to London July 23. We are staying in the Olympic Village with all of the athletes.
In my role as team physician my job is to keep everyone healthy, including athletes, coaches, managers, and other staff. Common musculoskeletal problems include shoulder, neck, and back injury. I have had to treat several of these problems already. For example, many swimmers at this level have some degree of chronic shoulder pain due to the repetitive overuse in swimming. Breaststroke swimmers may develop knee pain. Lower lumbar spine problems can occur in butterfly and breaststroke swimmers due to the repetitive spinal hyperextension in these strokes.
In addition to swimming, I will be providing medical coverage for diving, synchronized swimming, and open water swimming.? Each of these sports has injuries that are specific to that discipline. For example, divers may have shoulder, wrist, and low back problems. There is also always the risk of acute injury in diving, especially from the 10 meter platform where a diver may hit the water at over 30 m.p.h. My experience managing concussions and spine problems in football may come in handy there.
The competition starts today, and the team is ready to start!
Dr. Scott Rodeo is an orthopedic surgeon and the co-chief of the Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service at Hospital for Special Surgery. He serves as a Team Physician for U.S.A. Olympic Swimming.