Doctor keeps swimmers in top shape using social media

Sport

Doctor keeps swimmers in top shape using social media

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, April 10, 2020

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That swimming and many other sports have been put on hold across the globe due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), physical health does not have to suffer a similar fate.

So, while athletes and swimmers, in particular, eagerly await the day when they are back on the pool deck, sports physical therapist Dr Dialo-Rudolph Brown has been instrumental in assisting the young sensations to cope with the current health crisis.

With the usual in-person sessions being discouraged to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, Brown decided to volunteer his time and expertise via Zoom, where swimmers and parents locally and abroad have reaped immense physical and mental benefits from the lone session thus far.

Brown, who is also a doctor of physical therapy and holds a master's in sports medicine, knows all too well that physical health forms a major part of life, and as such, cooked up the virtual strength training programme to challenge swimmers in exercise.

Kaizen Swim Club's Head Coach Rory Alvaranga, Kaheem Lozer, siblings Mikayla and Kayanna Brown and Zaneta Alvaranga were among the beneficiaries.

Jillian Crooks of Cayman Islands, England-based Alisha Stephenson, St Lucia's Mikaili Charlemagne and Bertram Blackman of Trinidad & Tobago, added to the international flavour to the session, which was initially slated to host local swimmers only.

Brown believes virtual sessions, which have become a norm in recent times, is indeed the way to go, as COVID-19 has wreaked havoc across the world, with some 1.5 million cases and over 80,000 deaths recorded.

“It's a great concept and a great idea to kind of keep our youth athletes active, keep them focused, and keep them a little bit motivated because understandably, not having things like Carifta and CCCAN to work towards in the short term, or by extension, not being able to swim can be demotivating.

“So hopefully, this small measure will kind of encourage them to keep physically active and focused until the whole crisis blows over and we can start to have our regular swimming competitions,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Since Brown started working with swimmers in 2016, he fell in love with the dynamics of the sport to the point where he has volunteered at several local swim meets, and even opted to travel with national teams on overseas assignments.

His latest stint was earlier this year when he accompanied a successful five-member female team to the UANA Cup in Lima, Peru.

“It has been quite a good experience for me and I have actually really enjoyed it. It has forced me to learn a bit more about swimming; I will confess I'm not much of a swimmer myself, but it has forced me to learn about the mechanics of the sport,” Brown reasoned.

As a certified strength and conditioning specialist, Brown is also charged with designing specific programmes for swimmers, taking into consideration that strength and conditioning differs a bit from your regular fitness training.

Brown explains that his programmes are crafted around two primary objectives — building resilience, thereby minimising the risk of sports related injury, and enhancing the performance of the athlete.

Given the current restrictions brought about by the COVID-19, Brown is forced to get creative, and as a result, encouraged athletes to use bottles of water and canned foods, among other things, for weightlifting as substitute for proper gym equipment.

“So how I go about designing a programme is that I take a number of things into account, so I do an analysis, where I consider the sport, what the sport is about and I also consider the athletes.

“Ideally, it would be good to do something individually for each athlete, but sometimes you can't get to that and so you have to do things as a group. I bear in mind that the young athletes are all youths and they are not small adults, they are still kids. So, I do bear that in mind as I'm designing a programme,” Brown explained.

Brown also dropped sound words of advice to other athletes, who might be having difficulties physically and mentally while confined to home.

“Other athletes can try something similar; some of them might have actual exercise equipment at home, some of them may not have any formal equipment per se, but you have your body and the body can actually be used in many ways to offer different levels of resistance just by changing a position, changing angles and so on to do different exercises,” he said.

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