In this guest blog post, MySwimPro Ambassador Julie Kamat shares how she rediscovered swimming after over 10 years, overcame 2 shoulder injuries, and got faster than she could have ever imagined!
My name is Julie, and I’m a masters swimmer living in Oregon. I grew up in New York, where I was a synchronized swimmer, competitive swimmer and a downhill ski racer.
When I was young, I loved being in the water, so my parents put me in swim lessons when I was 4 years old. They saw that I was a fish in the water, and then put me in synchronized swimming when I was 8. I competed in synchro until I was 14 and also went to US Nationals!
When I was 12, I started swimming competitively, too. After stopping synchro, I focused on swimming and trying to get into a D1 college swimming program. Unfortunately, I injured my shoulder when I was 16 and I decided to swim at a Division 3 college.
Within the first two months of my freshman year at college, I knew my shoulder was at its limit. I decided to stop swimming and opted into my first shoulder surgery.
During this time, I focused on academics, my career, friendships and other fulfilling experiences, which were originally tough to balance when I was swimming so much. I learned to code and even tried out Zumba and ballet. I ended up taking 12 years off from swimming!
I still worked out a few times a week in the gym and ran here and there. I did a few half marathons and 5Ks along the way. I also joined a local Masters Synchronized Swimming team in New York City and competed nationally. Staying active helped me transition back into competitive swimming after such a long break.
Getting Back in the Water
I got back in the water in 2017, after watching the 50 free finals at the 2016 games in Rio. Watching this race made me realize that I never finished what I started with competitive swimming. I thought, why not try again?
When I started to train in the pool again, it was super overwhelming at first. I lost so much technique and didn’t know how to write workouts anymore, and I had no idea what swim drills I should be doing.
After a few months of training, I ended up tearing my labrum in 2017, so I had to get surgery to repair it. After a few months of rehabbing my shoulder, I started to ease into swimming again, this time with a focus on proper technique. I started out with simple drills and used fins to take some pressure off my shoulder. After 6 months of intense physical therapy and strategic training, I swam my personal best 50 freestyle at Masters Pan Ams!
Once I found a workout schedule that enabled me to keep my work-life balance, I stuck to it. I train alone, so I use MySwimPro to create my own Workouts, or use the Workout Library for inspiration and make tweaks to my particular stroke focus and needs. I also use MySwimPro’s Pool Swim mode on my Apple Watch to track more complex Workouts. I use my watch’s heart rate monitor to track my rest time in between sprint sets.
I look forward to my swim workouts! Swimming helps take the stress of the day away. I always feel good leaving the pool, but secretly, I never want to leave!
What I’ve Learned
As a masters swimmer, I’ve learned to listen to my body, take breaks when I need them, and make sure I’m having fun. Going into practice with a specific strategy is more impactful than swimming endless laps.
My swimming comeback has taught me that there are always things to work on. It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to consistently practice the small things to get faster!
Today, I’m over 30, but I’m faster than I ever was in high school. I compete in USA Swimming and U.S. Masters Swimming. I’m currently working on getting my 50 free time down, and I hope to swim in the 2022 World Masters Championships in Japan.
I hope that my journey inspires other adults to get in the pool and swim. And I want them to know that you don’t have to be a teenager to accomplish your athletic goals!