Children's Hospital Colorado

We care for patients’ growing muscles, joints and bones through sports medicine, surgery, rehabilitation and research.

Best Children's Hospital by U.S. News & World Report Orthopedics 2021-2 Badge


A teenager swims in a lane pool wearing a swim cap and goggles.

Why are we experts at caring for young swimmers? 

Swimming puts a unique demand on the body because of different motions of each stroke and the high level of training it takes to improve speed and technique.

At Children’s Hospital Colorado, our Sports Medicine experts understand the sport of swimming and the demands it puts on joints and muscles. We also specialize in the methods for recovering from injury and preventing future injuries – all to provide young athletes with the most sports-specific care possible.

Watch Kiana's Story

Watch to learn how competitive swimmer Kiana overcame "career-ending" injuries by working with our sports medicine physical therapy program. 

What is swimming’s impact on the body? 

Propelling the body through water using the arms, trunk and legs works a young athlete’s joints in a very different way than any other sport or activity. This unique aspect of swimming, combined with the high repetition of motion and large joint motions required by certain strokes can often lead to pain in the shoulder area, knees or spine. This pain may require an evaluation by a sports and orthopedics-trained provider. 

What are common swimming injuries and conditions? 

Common swimming injuries we treat include:

  • Shoulder impingement
  • Rotator cuff or biceps tendonitis
  • Low back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Patellofemoral pain 

Does swimming affect a certain age group or gender more than others?

New swimmers, along with experienced swimmers who have recently changed their level of training, are more susceptible to overuse injuries. In general, female swimmers experience shoulder pain more frequently than males. 

Tips for parents of swimmers 

As a swimmer initially begins the sport, increases training, or returns to swimming after time away, muscle-area soreness is normal and expected for the first week to two weeks. However, any pain that is sharp, at the specific joint that lasts for several weeks, or progressively gets worse should be evaluated by a medical professional. 

Tips for swim coaches 

As a coach, it is critical to progressively increase the amount and intensity of your team’s training at about 15 to 20% per week. A good dry-land training program that addresses flexibility, rotator cuff and shoulder girdle stabilizer muscles and core muscles 2 to 3 times per week is also important in preventing overuse injuries and for improved performance.

Swimming websites and resources

Learn more about our Sports Medicine Center.

Need Advice for Your Young Athlete?

Check out our sports articles, written by our Sports Medicine experts. You'll find advice and tips for parents, coaches, trainers and young athletes.