Concussions in Synchronized Swimming

It’s often said that synchro is a safe sport.

Well, those people have never been in a pattern that was so close that someone got kicked.  If you take a close look at the photo on the left you can see the swimmers in wide eggbeater to avoid the kicks.

synchro 14 put on index

Or what about the throw or lift that does not work.  And the person on top comes crashing down on the stack.  I have no idea if the highlight on the right worked or not, but you can see the potential disaster if something does not work properly.

With any kick or highlight failure their is potential for a swimmer to sustain a concussion.  No one is exempt.  The beginner, the national team athlete and the masters athlete are all at risk and we need to know what to do if we suspect someone has had a concussion.

Do you know what to do?

The best advice out there is always be too cautious.  The long-term effects of a concussion can be detrimental for the quality of life of our swimmers. If a swimmers suffers another head injury the symptoms are often more severe and long lasting.

The problem with a concussion is that you cannot see it and the swimmer does not need to lose consciousness to have a concussion.  Because it’s the “invisible injury” swimmers and coaches may not realize how serious this injury is.

Well, some of the more severe long-term effects can be Parkison like symptoms, depression, suicide and other cognitive issues like memory loss.

I am not a doctor so I am not going to give you any advice, but I would like to share some great resources for you and I suggest you work with a medical professional to help you come up with how you and your club are going to handle concussions.

Here is a SCAT 3 for children (ages 5-12).  Scat stands for Sport Concussion Assessment Tool.

Here is a SCAT 3 (they do not list any ages)

It should be noted that the SCAT 3 should be used by medical professionals.

Here is a protocol that the Synchro Canada National team follows in the event of a concussion.

Here is the return to the pool protocol found on the Synchro Canada website.  I love this resource because it is SYNCHRO specific and tells you what to do when you are easing a swimmer back in to practice.  You should never just put your swimmer back in a full practice when they say they are symptom free.  Symptoms can reappear very quickly.

The Think First website has great resources for parents, coaches, and medical personal.  This is the site I go to when I need information on concussions.

You can find lots of great resources online if you goggle concussions in hockey and football.  I also like the Hockey Canada website.

I just stumbled on s synchro specific website.  This is great website by Sarah Urke, former National Team member-Team USA.  Read her story and see if you still think about concussions the same way.5010a

Here is a portion of Sarah Urke’s story:

” However, I was still missing the thing I loved the most, synchro.  I could not even exercise without provoking horrible symptoms of dizziness, lightheadedness, and headaches.   This final part of the recovery was harder than any other, even more abundant with little successes only to be knocked back down with major failures.  I tried a graduated increased exercising program and I had good and bad days, but the hardest part was that the good days were so random.  I could not figure out why some days I could not exercise at all because of immobilizing headaches and dizziness, while other days my dreams were revived and I was motivated to someday swim again.  Compared to my previous high-level athletic lifestyle, barely being able to walk thirty minutes, on a good day, was excruciating.  I remember telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other and take one step at a time.    I felt like I had to take each day this way, one day at a time.  Fortunately, my synchro training equipped me with life-long skills of discipline, sacrifice, stress management, and self-motivation. These lessons powered my physical and psychological recovery.”

Please take concussions seriously at all levels.  No one is immune.

If you have any resources that would be helpful for our sport, leave them in the comment section below or post them on my Facebook page.

Leave a Comment

Top 4 Olympic Qualifier Tech Teams 2016

Get your FREE DOWNLOAD today!

Includes all pattern changes and swimmer positions.