Delaying the inevitable

Junior puts her state swimming goals on hold after shoulder injury


Photo by Jeff Wilber

Lauren Newton places 33rd in the state after the Metro Conference meet. The following summer she was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and dashed her hopes of swimming state her junior season.

Miguel Paredes Reyes, Sports Director

The stakes were raised for junior swimmer Lauren Newton at the end of her sophomore season when she had made it back to finals at the Metro Conference meet placing 15th with a time of 5:44.97. Unfortunately for Newton, she had placed 33rd in the state, only tenths of a second away from qualifying for the State Championship two weeks later.

 She and her head coach Jamie Bowcott remained optimistic that the following season, she would make a strong case for state.

“I left my sophomore year with so much unfinished business,” Newton said. “As I was watching State, I knew a was faster than some of these people. It was so disheartening, and going into this season, I was ready to show everybody what I could do.”

The following summer going into her junior year, she began training for her comeback but was slowed down by shoulder pain. Newton had been experiencing lingering shoulder problems during the previous season but powered through—a bit of pain wasn’t going to stop her from reaching her goals. After about a month, her symptoms worsened and Newton began experiencing numbness in her shoulder while she swam. After consulting with Bowcott, it was apparent that she needed to see a doctor. The initial MRI scan, conducted by orthopedic surgeon Kirk Hutton at Ortho Nebraska came back clean. Hutton suggested trying a full diagnostic at Nebraska Medicine, and she was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome. Thoracic outlet syndrome is a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between your collarbone and your first rib are compressed. Since January, Newton has been attending physical therapy to make sure, as soon as she is cleared and back in the water, she can get right into it.

“I was expecting big things from her coming into this season,” Bowcott said. “Over the summer, she was training like crazy and getting ready for the next season. Once her injury hit, you could tell she was frustrated. She is one of the most positive and driven people on the team, and I know she’ll be back next season.”

One of the biggest obstacles Newton has had to overcome during her recovery is nothing physical, but the mental struggle of knowing she had left the previous season with a question mark and not being able to answer it her junior year. With the support of Bowcott as well as teammates and family, she has been able to change her outlook on her injury and her life in general, finding new ways to enjoy herself and keep herself occupied while her swimming career is put on hold.

“It was a struggle to wake up early in the morning, and go to a practice where I wouldn’t be able to run, lift weights or swim,” Newton said. “I’m going to be there for my team because they’ve been there for me and supported me throughout my recovery. Having something that has been a constant of my life for the past nine years be ripped out like that and not being able to exercise was really hard on me mentally.”

Newton continues to put in the work at physical therapy as well as keeping herself in shape by running whenever she can and doing any exercise she is able to. She is eyeing her return to the water in late March where she will chase her goal of the 2022 State Championship meet she set at the end of her sophomore year.