More on Swimmers Shoulder

More on Swimmer’s Shoulder


More on the Swimmer’s Shoulder from my Father

My father was an Orthopedic surgeon who practiced in Long Beach, California from 1951 until his retirement in 1992 at the age of 76. He did not specialize in sports medicine, but he did see many local swimmers throughout his career, mostly for shoulder problems. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 97.

While rummaging through some old scrap book materials, I found some of the many research papers that he published. This one from 1959 was on the anatomical differences in the shoulder girdle of those who suffered dislocated shoulders compared to others who did not. I thought this article was particularly interesting and timely since we were recently discussing how some athletes are more prone to developing Swimmer’s Shoulder than others, based on anatomical differences. I have had this article in my possession for over 20 years, but had never seen it nor read it. Was this just coincidence???

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The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery article from 1959. The photo on the right shows X rays of relatively normal shoulder joints


                                      This photo shows X rays of abnormal shoulders which dislocated more easily

My father served as Department Head of Orthopedics at the Long Beach VA Hospital, but later was a solo practicing Orthopedic surgeon long before cell phones were invented. In other words, he was confined to staying at home, near the phone in the house, because he was always on call for emergencies. He was called away to the hospital every weekend I can remember. He rarely got to see me compete in swimming meets.

One of the few times he did get to see me swim was in the 1968 Olympic Games, where I won the silver medal in the 400 IM, losing to the great American swimmer, Charlie Hickcox. The race was close (I lost by just .3 seconds). My father was videoing the race with a super 8 movie camera. He got so nervous on the final lap that he dropped the camera so he could whistle and cheer me on. 

While I admit I never saw the race (ABC did not share the television with anyone), I understand why he dropped the camera. I was more nervous watching Gary Jr in the Olympic Games than I could ever remember being as an athlete.

Thank you, Dad, for your many contributions to Orthopedic medicine and thanks for being such a great dad.

Yours in Swimming,

Gary Sr.

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