Providence College’s Athletic Program competes at the highest levels of intercollegiate athletics in the country. All men’s and women’s varsity athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level, and 15 of 19 teams play in the highly competitive Big East Conference, including men’s and women’s basketball. Here and at home, PC Friar athletic teams play hard and train hard. So when PC opened the new Hydrotherapy Room in the Canavan Sports Medicine Center last August, athletes and athletic trainers alike were excited to start using their new SwimEx 700T as well as SwimEx hot and cold plunge pools.
“We’re really using the SwimEx based on rehab protocols,” said John Rock, ATC, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine. “Right now we have four athletes recovering from ACL reconstructive surgery. We also have two athletes recovering from shoulder surgery and other athletes with a variety of injuries using the SwimEx. With all the sports we have, there are a multitude of uses for it and its versatility in general is very positive so far.”
Rock and his staff, all certified by the National Athletic Trainers' Association, are responsible for the health and care of more than 300 student-athletes. Rock was introduced to the SwimEx by Rob Lawton, a colleague who had been the head Athletic Trainer at the University of Maine and worked for SwimEx.
“We liked the SwimEx over other brands for several reasons. For us, SwimEx is a local company so we wanted to support the local economy. Plus, the thinking was if there were any issues down the road we would have good technical support nearby. Secondly, we liked the SwimEx for its strong current for rehab. We looked at Hydroworx, but we liked the current better than the jets from a resistance point of view,” Rock said.
Since men’s basketball is the school’s premiere sport, it was only natural that PC chose the SwimEx Model 700T with a seven foot deep well. This enables their tallest players to use it and still have it be non-weight bearing for them. This year there are two 6’11” players on the team.
“The SwimEx has changed the way we rehab,” Rock says. “We never had access to hydrotherapy before so we’re still in a significant learning curve but I can already see it’s an incredible addition to our rehab process. For things like an ACL surgery, we can do more for the athletes from a range of motion and weight bearing standpoint earlier in the recovery process. They are in less pain because they have full range of motion faster. The standard recovery for ACL is four to six months – we’re not shortening that timeframe, but we have made the rehab process more enjoyable, giving the athletes more options in rehab protocols, and they’re less bored. From a psychological standpoint, that all adds up to a huge advantage recovering from this type of injury.”
Hot and cold pools
The hot and cold plunge tanks replaced the traditional whirlpool they had in the old training room. One time-saving advantage to the SwimExes is that they don’t have to be drained and cleaned every day. Rock reported that the track athletes love the cold plunge pool, which can fit multiple people.
“We have a very high profile track program and they run a significant number of miles each week. They feel like they get their legs back quicker if they hop in the cold pool for ten minutes after a workout,” Rock said.
Too busy for conditioning
PC’s athletic trainers say they can see that the SwimEx’s steady laminar flow has enormous potential for use as a conditioning tool, but so far they’re focusing on rehab. “Just from a time management point of view, we have to prioritize and limit use to rehab. One of our staff members however, is a physical fitness nut and is always looking for new workouts. He’s been testing it out running, jumping, swimming, doing resistance exercises and core training. He has taken what he has learned in the pool and uses those exercises with the student athletes,” Rock reported.
With all the use the pools are getting, it looks like the Friars and SwimEx are a winning team.