Encouraging medical advancements for young swimmers is allowing them to continue their training regimen while they heal from certain injuries.
“In my history of coaching swimming, I've never had a swimmer swim with a cast on,” said Daniel Jau, swim coach at Grapevine High School.
That’s where Samantha Tatum, 16, is a varsity basketball player — and an incredible swimmer.
“She's one of the fastest swimmers in the district and region,” said Jau.
So, when Samantha broke a small bone in her hand during a basketball game, everyone wondered what would happen to the rest of the sophomore’s swimming season.
“That was really devastating,” recalled Samantha, who learned she would need surgery.
“When an athlete gets hurt and they're told they can't play, everything shuts down,” said Scott Fletcher with Baylor Scott & White Sports Care. “They have trouble in school, they have trouble communicating with other people.”
Samantha’s surgery didn’t slow her down.
“She was in the water the next day after surgery,” said Jau.
And it was thanks to a waterproof cast.
“I was like, I can swim in this?” questioned Samantha. Her skepticism is natural, since, for decades casts required protection from water.
Through modified practices, the waterproof cast allowed Samantha to stay in the game.
“The first time I got in the water I was like, ‘this is a little heavy,’" laughed Samantha, whose mother noted the same.
“We were just impressed with her being able to swim with the heavy cast and not even be able to use her thumb because her thumb was immobilized; it was only her fingers," said her mom, Bettina Tatum.
A true fighter, Samantha swam in district and regional competitions.
“I made it to finals in two of my individuals,” said the proud swimmer.
She’s now in a splint for six weeks and can’t play basketball, but will head to nationals for swimming thanks to her uninterrupted time in the water.