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The Games: Dr. Roberts' Thoughts on Competitive Swimming

Tuesday, July 27, 2021 2:42 PM

David Roberts, MD
Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute 

SPORT: Competitive swimmer from age 6 through high school

WATCHING PLANS:  Like many of us, Dr. Roberts is often on the edge of his seat watching the nail-biting action in the pool. He looks forward to races featuring U.S. swimmer and gold medalist Katie Ledecky, whose strong stroke and lesser kick reminds him of his competitive swimming days. “I swam more like that and it’s nice to see that validated,” Dr. Roberts said.

For as long as Dr. Roberts can remember, he has loved being in the pool. Swimming was a huge part of his family life: He and his three sisters swam five to six days a week and competed on school and traveling teams. He continues to swim for fun and fitness and is an advocate for what he calls a lifelong sport that is easier on the joints than many other pursuits, even for older athletes and those with arthritis.

“I love swimming; I like being in the water and the way it allows you to really get in the zone. You can’t hear anything, and blocking out everything else can help you relax,” Dr. Roberts said.

DIVING IN: Swimming is a great source of cardio fitness, helps with flexibility and overall strength. For adults who are just starting out or never really learned to swim there can be a bit of a learning curve and Dr. Roberts suggests taking a lesson.

And for those who already know how to swim, but want to get more involved in the sport he suggests getting involved in a Masters's program. “Illinois is a great state for swimming, there are lots of good resources,” he said. “And working with a coach or a group helps with accountability.”

Many people get into swimming for cross-training since sports like running can be more demanding on their joints.

JUST KEEP SWIMMING: Dr. Roberts is also a fan of the discipline and internal drive fostered by competitive swimming. “It’s a very individual sport and it’s really rewarding even if you are not racing to track your own improvement in progress and times,” he said. Perhaps the early morning swim practices draw a certain type as Dr. Roberts has several other friends from childhood competitive swimming days who also became physicians.

He looks forward to his own three young children joining swim teams and perhaps joining a Masters's team himself when his kids are a little older.