Swimming injury statistics

A 2009 study by Wolf et al in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at injury rates for the men’s and women’s swim teams at the University of Iowa from 2002-2007. 

There were 90 injuries sustained by 32 of 44 male swimmers (72.7%), while 76 injuries occurred in 35 of 50 female swimmers (70.0%).

The average number of exposures per year was estimated at 4526 for men and 4651 for women with an injury rate of 4.00 per 1000 athletic exposures (AE) for men and 3.78 per 1000 AE for women. There was no significant difference in injury risk between male and female swimmers and the proportion of injuries that resulted in missed time also was similar between genders.

The shoulder and upper arm accounted for 31% of male swimmer injuries and 36% for female swimmers. Back and neck injuries were the second most injured area. There was no statistically significant relationship between body part injured and the likelihood of missing time. 

Freshman athletes suffered the highest number of total injuries and highest average number of injuries per athlete for both women’s and men’s teams. The risk of injury was not significantly different between sprinters and distance swimmers. 

Non-freestyle swimmers showed a 33% greater risk of injury than swimmers primarily specializing in freestyle.  There was no significant association between stroke specialty and time missed and no clear association between stroke specialty and body region injured. 

Practice represented 55.6 and 60.5 percent, respectively, of men’s and women’s injuries with strength training showing the second highest rate of injury.

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