View Full Version : Ever break a bone while swimming?

Water Rat
March 5th, 2010, 02:21 PM
I didn't think it was possible, certainly not likely but I did it. I don't mean slipping on the deck and breaking an arm. I mean "while swimming".

Two nights ago, going into my backstroke turn in the middle of my 200IM, I realized too late that the backstroke flags had been taken down. I arched my neck to look upside down toward the wall to guage the distance, BAM, I slammed face first into the wall. I came up with a pretty small gash on my nose and cut on my forehead. It wasn't so much painful as startling and certainly embarrassing. Once the bleeding stopped, I thought I should go see about getting it stitched at our local, friendly ER. While in the waiting room, I realized my face hurt...ALOT, so they did an x-ray and sure enough a broken nose.

I've never broken a bone in my life (knock on wood). I quit running 18 months ago b/c I had become so injury prone in my late 30's/early 40's. It's not so bad though, as broken bones go. I'll be back in the pool in a few days once my stitches are gone. The bone will take 4-6 weeks to heal but that shouldn't keep me out of the pool.

Just curious if I'm unique in this regard.

Calvin S
March 5th, 2010, 02:49 PM
my sister was kicked in the face and broke her nose in practice in high school.

and my mother broke all her toes doing the old fashioned backstroke flip turn when she was in middle school. i was TERRIFIED to do a backstroke flip turn when i first was learning how to swim...until someone explained to me that the turn had changed and so there was no longer any danger of me getting my toes caught in the gutter like she did.

Chris Stevenson
March 5th, 2010, 02:51 PM
Broke my hand on a backstroke finish. Although I felt pretty foolish about it at the time, I have since heard from a number of other swimmers who have done the same thing. (I sprain fingers all the time on finishes.)

March 5th, 2010, 03:03 PM
My daughter got her toe caught in the lane lines on a backstroke flip turn to avoid another kid and broke it. I don't think you could recreate that.

March 5th, 2010, 03:13 PM
broke a finger backstroking. had my goggles kicked off my face plenty of times in OW events.

March 5th, 2010, 03:32 PM
Just curious if I'm unique in this regard. Hell no. Back to the days I was coaching Varsity Level, a strong 100back female specialist crashed into the wall at race pace.

Scull fracture. Knocked Out. Blood everywhere. Emergency transport to the hospital. Wasn't pretty.

Water Rat
March 5th, 2010, 04:13 PM
Geez, who knew backstroke was so dangerous

March 5th, 2010, 04:16 PM
it's rare to break a bone in swimming, especially large ones, but it does happen.

Swimmers can break
+ fingers on bad touches, (Neil Walker NCAAs, I've come close a few times)
+ toes and heels on turns
+ hands when smacking other swimmers mid stroke or diving in and hitting bottom
The riskiest time is when a swimmer dives or jumps in the pool, bones can break if they hit the bottom or another swimmer.

I'm sure there is or was some one some where who dove in or jumped in an empty pool. Ouch.

I imagine diving to be a much riskier injury prone aquatic sport.


Chicken of the Sea
March 5th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Geez, who knew backstroke was so dangerous

yet another reason for me to avoid it like the plague! :bolt:

March 5th, 2010, 04:35 PM
Geez, who knew backstroke was so dangerous

I did it in freestyle (which makes me look kind of foolish). Swam too fast into the wall and cracked my middle finger bone.

March 5th, 2010, 04:36 PM
I have never broken a bone all by myself. Someone slugged me in the face in an OW race in 1998 and broke my nose for me, however.

When my former coach was a teen, someone threw a kickboard at her just as she was diving in. The kickboard and her head managed to connect just right and she broke a vertebra in her neck (no permanent injury, though).

I gave myself a concussion once about five or six years ago by daydreaming and missing the flags and backstroking right into the wall. Fortunately, I was slacking and the concussion was minor. I was disoriented and sort of dizzy for a while and I had a low-grade headache for a few days.

March 5th, 2010, 06:04 PM
My brother broke his ankle doing a flip turn - I'm thinking HOW do you break a bone while swimming when my mom told me about it. -Guess it happens more often than I thought. :bolt:

March 5th, 2010, 07:34 PM
I nearly broke both heels doing a flip turn in a really cloudy pool.

Goose-egged them both, but the swelling went down the next day, so I never went to a doctor.

March 5th, 2010, 10:48 PM
Any activity with high speed is risky, back crawl or front crawl... Train collision is more fatal than bus collision.

Be slow and easy... :D

March 6th, 2010, 05:04 AM
I broke a bone in my hand back in '89 while finishing.

my coach and I were not getting along that day and when I saw he was standing close enough to the pool I decided to finish hard enough to get him wet. wound up breaking a bone in the palm of my hand and was out of swimming most of that summer. Wound up taking a break for 12 months which turned out to be the biggest development mistake in my swimming carrier.

March 6th, 2010, 08:38 AM
Wow - I'm glad I'm exhausted at the end of my races and don't have enough energy left to hurt myself.

March 6th, 2010, 08:23 PM
broken toe from breast stroke kicking into the ladder on the side of the pool-yeah, I don't swim in that lane anymore if I have to share

March 6th, 2010, 08:43 PM
Geez, who knew backstroke was so dangerous Quite frankly, everybody was surprised to realize the gravity of this injury. That female was nearly 6feet tall. Well built National level. 1:03 over 100m back. After all she just crashed into a wall. But since she wasn't at all expecting the wall maybe she gave a huge pull then bang. IOW she was probably accelerating her body into this wall.

Scull fracture. That's quite major.

Allen Stark
March 6th, 2010, 11:56 PM
No fractures swimming,but dislocated my shoulder hitting the wall at full extension on a breaststroke turn.

March 7th, 2010, 06:31 PM
A while ago someone in the pool told me her toe was broken by a faster swimmer, presumably while trying to pass her, though I'm not sure whether her own body position was acceptable, as it was clear she was not a good swimmer. Sometimes some very slow swimmers' legs spread over 2/3 (or more) of the lane even though they are swimming the crawl, not breast.:cool:

March 8th, 2010, 02:17 PM
Never saw anyone break a bone, but I saw a backstroker dislocate his shoulder on a turn during an NCAA division III national championships in the 1980s. He was helped from the pool in great pain.

March 8th, 2010, 03:01 PM
When I was back in high school, I remember glancing hands with a teammate in the next lane (freestyle recovery). Found out that I had broken his hand, which was rather unfortunate because it wasn't that solid of an arm collision.

Had a friend bloody-but-not-break the nose of someone who tried sneaking into the wall just as my friend was doing a backstroke start. The arms swinging away from the blocks caught the guy in the face.

Had a college roommate break his hand blocking a shot during man-down defense in a water polo match. Didn't notice until the end of the quarter that his hand was overly "foldy". Spent several hours in the Annapolis hospital waiting room before they put a cast on his arm.

Karen Duggan
March 8th, 2010, 03:59 PM
This thread is like a horror movie for swimmers!

I haven't broken anything that I know of, but I have been kicked in the face while pushing off behind the breaststroker in front of me. Also, my hubby kicked me in the scapula (not fun, he's 6'4" and very strong) while swimming in the lane next to me. I couldn't swim for 2 days. Oh, yes and the unfortunate heel incident of late 2009!

Lots of smacked hands and forearms. Very bad when paddles were involved.

My hubby did break his finger winning the 400IM (or 200 br, I can't remember) at Nationals in Tempe. He did swim the rest of his races. Lots of ice.

March 8th, 2010, 07:24 PM
NO ! Pulled a few muscles , but never broke anything.

March 9th, 2010, 09:16 AM
Thanks guys. You've given me fears I never had :badday:

March 9th, 2010, 03:47 PM
I know of a Jr Natl caliber swimmer who hit the pool bottom and fractured a neck vertebra (fortunately no spinal cord injury, but did require surgery to fuse/stabilize the neck).

I recall a tall very thin Masters swimmer who dislocated his shoulder diving from the blocks. His hands came apart when he entered the water and it was kind of a freak accident, no impact with ropes, swimmers, pool bottom, etc. He had very little muscle mass.

We also had a kid with a brittle bone condition for a while. We couldn't guarantee him his own lane to avoid being kicked during practice or to give him more room away from the laneropes.

The injuries described have all seemed to involve some contact/impact or a preexisting condition. I wonder if anyone ever broke a bone or had an avulsion injury just with a strong muscle contraction while swimming.

March 11th, 2010, 05:48 PM
I think Emily Silver from Cal broke her hand on a finish at the '08 Olympic Trials.

I've smashed my face and hand (at the same time) during a backstroke finish. Didn't break anything, but I saw stars. Also misjudged a flip turn (on back) and slammed both heels into a gutter during a race (that hurt soooo bad).

In high school, I was hit in the eye with paddles (while wearing sweedes). That was not fun.

jim thornton
March 13th, 2010, 09:34 PM
During a relay in high school, one of the thick skulled Kiesling brothers finished his leg in the race, and my brother jumped off the blocks, arms swimming outward. Mr. Kiesling unfortunately stuck his head up to see what his split was, and John's had crashed into the granite-like slab of bone covering his tender gray soup matter. The skull was fine, but my brother broke a metatarcil in his hand.

At another meet, upon wearing an advanced speed suit for the 1000 i did not realize how much faster, and how many fewer strokes
it would take to reach the wall, I had my eyes closed and misjudged it, jamming my wedding ring finer into the wall, narly preciippitatieng fraracture. and with it gafreneouhs.

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July 17th, 2010, 07:21 PM
I dislocated a woman's shoulder in a collision 30 years ago. Three of my teammates have fractured someones hand in their younger days. One of the local master swimmers has fractured her hand during a practice. The former president of the USMS fractured his hand at the long course nationals at the Woodlands touching the wall. The former trainer of the national team has seen a fracture resulting from catching the lane lines. I think swimming injuries are more common than we think, but if you consider the number of laps swum every day they are rare.

July 17th, 2010, 08:25 PM
Wow. Reading all of these makes me cringe. So far the only thing I've done is dislocate my shoulder. I pushed off the wall during warm-up in a HS meet and someone came towards me. I only missed 1 meet.

The Fortress
July 17th, 2010, 08:41 PM
Dropped a monofin on my big toe a few years ago. Had a severe bloody gash, but the x-ray was negative. However, I've had chronic tendonitis, and possibly arthritis, there ever since.

Many, many jammed fingers on finishes.

Breaking doesn't seem like the biggest issue in swimming itself, but tendonitis is just as painful.

July 18th, 2010, 06:54 AM
On the other hand, our air conditioning repairman just told us a story yesterday how he broke his ankle noodling... hit the side of the pool really hard while water running or some such thing.

July 18th, 2010, 10:21 AM
On the other hand, our air conditioning repairman just told us a story yesterday how he broke his ankle noodling...

All injuries lead back to air conditioning it seems!

July 18th, 2010, 10:52 AM
I dislocated a finger when it got caught in a lane-line as I came out of a turn. Ach! It really killed! I can't imagine what dislocating a shoulder feels like...

March 12th, 2011, 03:13 PM
I broke a toe pushing off the wall.

Medicine Woman
March 12th, 2011, 04:51 PM
I broke my foot this past December pushing off the wall. Wasn't really paying attention on an easy set and kicked the wall fracturing my middle metatarsals. Six weeks in a boot and just now getting back in the water. Takes some real coordination to pull off an injury like that.

March 12th, 2011, 06:48 PM
I dislocated a finger when it got caught in a lane-line as I came out of a turn. Ach! It really killed! I can't imagine what dislocating a shoulder feels like...

I did the exact same thing. It was not pleasant.

I thought I broke my heel. I smacked it on the gutter doing a flip turn in a 50 with goggles full of water. Just a bad bruise, but it hurt for several days.

Maui Mike
March 12th, 2011, 07:43 PM
Lifeguards in SoCal used to have a big meet at the Coliseum pool every summer -- maybe they still do? Carpinteria State Beach (only 7 towers) was a powerhouse for a few summers in the mid sixties and won almost all events except for one, the dummy tow. That event was owned by the LA County guards. The dummy tow had a swimmer with a rope attached race 50 meters then clip onto a weighted 5 gallon metal can, then two burly teammates would pull him and the can back to the start. The pullers would alternate grabbing the rope at the pool edge then spinning and racing toward the chain link fence about 5 yards behind the blocks, where good technique dictated a half twist/crash and bounce off the fence at the exact moment the other puller stated his run. The swimmer dragging rope the whole way covered the first 50 meters in a little under 30 seconds but impressive displays of negative splitation by the top teams put the total time at a little over 50 seconds with the top speed achieved in the last few meters. We had a great sprinter named Jim Bailey (Santa Monica High) and he got down there first and it was neck and neck as our large and quick pullers had spent a lot of time practicing. But they should have practiced more under race conditions. Bailey was on his back doing a reverse butterfly arm action and literally skipping over the water when the race ended abruptly with his head loudly cracking into the wall! There were hundreds of spectators screaming throughout the race but it became instantly silent. Bailey slowly tilted his face skyward and there was a slight communal relief, perhaps he will live? A quick thinking teammate (lifeguards are good in a crunch), promptly cracked a beer and poured it over our fallen comrade's face and the roars of laughter healed him instantly. We were glad he didn't die and proud to have finished a close second to another amazing LA County team. :chug:

Jim B.
March 12th, 2011, 10:48 PM
I dislocated a finger when it got caught in a lane-line

I have always been afraid of this. I feel like I have come close more than a few times.

March 15th, 2011, 11:57 AM
My 15 year old broke her middle toe last week playing water polo. Probably kicked someone in the shin. Consequences of moving to the dark side LOL!

March 15th, 2011, 12:53 PM
I thought I did. Touching the wall at the end of a 100 free, I jammed my left middle finger. It turned purple and I couldn't bend it for a few days. I still swam a couple of events afterwards. Plus, with that particular finger stuck extended the way it was, it didn't affect my driving either!

March 15th, 2011, 01:03 PM
After taking 20 years off swimming I ruptured my disk between the lower two verterbrae in my neck while swimming butterfly. I think the problem was already waiting to happen and it just finished it off. It sounded like a gunshot when it happened and scared the tar out of me. I know its not a bone but I had to have the two verterbrae fused togehther so it kind of counts.

March 15th, 2011, 06:22 PM
I haven't but I have known a teammate who broke her nose the same way, and another teammate who hit her hand on someone else's paddle and broke her finger. Feel better soon!

March 15th, 2011, 08:59 PM
Yes - left little finger on the head of an oncoming swimmer in the same lane. Happened just after a turn at 800Y in a 900Y swim. Finished the swim (so Coach wouldn't get mad). Coach's parting words as I left to get it x-rayed, "If it is broken, don't let them put a cast on it!" It was broken (green-stick fracture), had a splint put on it, and never missed a workout.

A teammate broke his hand at Nationals one year, on a relay finish. Was so ticked off that he punched a wall later that night and broke the other hand.

Amy T
March 17th, 2011, 06:32 AM
I haven't broken anything of my own, but I hit one of my teammates' hands with my paddle. My arms in freestyle are more like fly because they're so long (I'm 5'8" and my wingspan is 5'10"), so I hit people all the time when we're all crowded in.

I've strained my Achilles tendon practicing turns, cuz I didn't get my whole foot on the wall. I got some bad stress fractures from ballet for nine years, and pushing off like that aggravates them.

March 17th, 2011, 06:18 PM
Last night at practice , a guy wearing a watch slammed into my hand ^ cut it open! Big bruise & an open cut 1/2 inch long, but not broken - I hope!

March 17th, 2011, 08:45 PM
Broke my 5th metacarpal backstroking in a stupid pool with messed up flags that are like 20ft off the ground making it hard to judge the distance.

I know a couple people who have broken fingers and noses. Nothing too crazy though.