Swimmers and non-swimmers alike were hearing floods of rumors and stories like these about Grant Minick, a senior who moved to the East area from Manassas, VA., a week before school started this year. East swimmers that swim for the Kansas City Blazers with Minick heard the news first and spread the word about this new teammate quickly.
But these high expectations were crushed when Minick fractured his left femur at a lacrosse practice in early October while cutting hard to dodge a fellow player.
“I was making a hard cut to my left and when I planted it just snapped,” Minick said. “I knew right away that it was my femur… because it popped really loudly.”
After the injury, Minick’s thoughts instantly jumped to his swim season and how it didn’t stand a chance. He thought about the time he spent at two-a-day practices and dry land to perfect his strokes and his speed. He thought that he wouldn’t have a chance to get up to his top shape for his last year on the swim team.
After about two months of physical therapy and easing back into swimming, Minick’s injury is healing and he expects to be able to compete for East after winter break.
East’s head swim coach Wiley Wright had never met Minick prior to his injury, but sympathized with him as soon as he heard the news. Wright had first heard about Minick when East’s girls’ swim coach, Rob Cole, told him in September that there was a new family whose daughter and son were strong swimmers.
“I felt sorry for the kid, you know, senior year, new school–that’s tough as it is and then to do that on top of that…I’m sure that wasn’t the highlight of his senior year,” Wright said.
The East swimmers quickly found out about Minick’s injury through word of mouth and were shocked, both because of the injury and what it meant for Minick’s swim season.
“I was kind of in disbelief about it,” sophomore Zack Holbrook said. “I was like, ‘wow, that can really happen to him after we just got him.’ He’s a great swimmer and I didn’t want to believe it.”
Because the injury was so close to swim season, the swimmers figured that Minick would be out through January and he would not have time to get in shape for the state meet on Feb. 16-18. However, Minick’s recovery has been quicker than they expected, partly due to Minick’s dedication to get back in the water.
The day after Minick broke his leg, he had surgery to insert a metal rod into his leg, which landed him on crutches. About a month after the surgery, Minick began working with physical therapist Lori Miller through the Athletic Rehabilitation Center three times a week. This was about two weeks before the swim season started. Miller focused on increasing the joint mobility to Minick’s hip and knee–the two joints that the femur is part of–and increasing his strength. Although Minick’s muscles were not harmed, they were weak from disuse after surgery.
At Minick’s first physical therapy session, Miller worked with him on bending his knee further and easy exercises to activate the quadriceps muscle. Since the first session, Minick’s strength has improved and he no longer needs crutches or even has a limp. At the most recent session, Miller continued to focus on strengthening Minick’s muscles, but was able to prescribe more strenuous exercises including squats, lateral band walks, and calf raises because Minick’s legs were stronger. So far, according to Miller, Minick’s healing process has been right on track and is going quickly now.
“[Minick] is starting to progress at a quicker rate now which I think it partly due to swimming,” Miller said. “He is getting more core and muscle strengthening by being in the pool which is definitely helping his recovery.”
Minick has noticed the quicker healing and strengthening as well, which has been faster than he, and the other swimmers, expected.
“I think [my recovery] is going a little faster than the average… I’m definitely trying to get back as fast as possible because I have sports to look forward to this year,” Minick said.[media-credit id=178 align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Minick returned to practicing with the KC Blazers about a month ago. He started easy, only completing about 800 yards of mostly pulling to get a feel for the water. Day by day, Minick has worked to build up his leg strength and get back into his best shape. At first he did his own workout in his own lane because he was not ready for the intense practices, but now he is much improved, practicing nine times a week with the KC Blazers.
“Now he’s able to finish an entire practice and he’s going the same speed as everybody else at practice which is great to see,” senior Andrew Hornung said.
Minick is comfortable in the water now, but certain things are still hard for him such as sprinting and starts.
“Getting my speed back up [is hard] because I can do aerobic right now with my pull but my speed relies a lot on my legs and my leg’s really weak right now,” Minick said.
As of now, Minick hopes to be able to begin practicing with the East swim team after winter break. Until then, he will practice with the KC Blazers and not participate in meets. Minick will continue his hard work in and out of the water so he will be ready to race for East come January.