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ND Women’s Swimming: Holden returns from injury

Vicky Jacobsen | Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Things should have been looking up for senior Kim Holden during the spring of 2011. Her sophomore season had ended with a trip to the NCAA Championship meet, she had claimed three more Big East titles to go with the four she won in her freshman campaign and the excitement of the U.S. Olympic Trials was just over a year away.

But then she began to notice one of her shoulders wasn’t feeling quite right.

“After NCAAs my sophomore year I went in to spring training and started noticing that my one of my shoulders wasn’t feeling so hot,” Holden said. “So the coaches and I made the decision to shut my shoulders down a little bit. I was going no arms and kicking for a while, and working in the training room on physical therapy.”

Instead of improving, though, Holden started feeling the same symptoms in her other shoulder.

“At that point the trainer and I decided to get MRIs, and what they found was that I had torn the labrum in both my shoulders,” Holden said. “We scheduled surgery right away because I knew I wanted to start the recovery process as soon as possible, so I did my left shoulder in mid-July and then my right shoulder mid-August. It’s not a major procedure, but for swimming the recovery process is pretty long, because it’s such an overhead sport.”

Holden had never had to deal with a major injury before, and the limitations of her healing shoulders were a constant source of frustration.

“All of last year was tough,” Holden said. “I was again kicking for most of the year with my hands by my side to protect them. I got physical therapy, strength in my shoulders without wearing them down again, and I was able to start competing again in dual meets in January last year, and compete at Big East. I didn’t have the meet that I wanted to but I tried to keep it in perspective.”

Holden still wasn’t fully recovered from double shoulder surgery, but she didn’t let that stop her from competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., in late June.

“By trials I was I’d say about 80 percent,” Holden said. “I was questioning the training I’d done going into trials just a little bit because I had to be on my legs more than I wanted to be. But for the most part, I was wrapped up in the experience of trials, and luckily I haven’t had any major pain during competition. I don’t know if it’s the adrenaline when it comes to racing, but it tends not to be the focus of my attention at meets, which is really nice.”

After the U.S. Trials, Holden returned home for a month and dedicated her attention to physical therapy. At the end of the summer, she swam at the U.S. Open, setting several new personal bests and giving her a shot of confidence as she returned to Notre Dame for her senior season.

Since then, Holden has been lighting up the pool. She won five individual races in the first two meets of the season, and the Big East named her the women’s swimming and diving Athlete of the Week on Tuesday.

Accolades aside, Holden said she’s just happy to be back training and racing with her team.

“Having to sit back and watch last year was really tough for me because I’m a very competitive person,” Holden said. “I loved seeing those girls have a successful season and I loved being able to watch that, but I’m definitely excited to be there with them this year. I’ve missed racing and I’ve missed doing the practices that the rest of the team is doing.”

Finally, things are starting to look up for Kim Holden.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]