We’ve heard a lot in recent years about the dangers of head trauma in sports, especially football, soccer and ice hockey.
You wouldn’t think so, but just ask avid swimmers Kate and Maria (who asked that their last names or other identifying details not be used to protect their privacy), both of whom suffered concussions recently at a Washington area pool, each apparently the result of inappropriate behavior by other swimmers. Maria’s injury was so serious that she missed nearly three weeks of work. “I’ve had headaches and I am sensitive to sound,” she says, and, even after several months, “I’m still not back to my usual routine.”
People who swim regularly know the protocol when doing laps. If you enter a lane that already has a swimmer in it, for example, you’re expected to alert that person that you are coming in. Typically, when two share a lane, each swimmer takes a single side and sticks to it. With three or more swimmers, you’re supposed to “circle swim,” which means that everyone stays to the right. If you must pass, you should do it carefully and not try to overtake someone who is approaching an end of the lane.
That’s how Kate got hurt. She was one of three swimmers circling. When she reached the wall, she turned “and suddenly felt a crashing blow to my head,” she says, colliding with the swimmer behind her. “I held my head and realized that the hit was hard,” she recalls. “I’m not sure which body part hit me. . . . Startled and a bit dazed, I stood up and asked, ‘What was that?’ “
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