Health Team

Triangle swimmer heads to Olympic Trials after overcoming shoulder injury

Posted April 23, 2015 6:34 p.m. EDT

— Ashley Twichell was a star swimmer at Duke University with her eye set on earning a place on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swim Team. But when the 25-year-old developed chronic should pain, she had to find a speedy solution in order to keep her dreams alive.

"It runs in my family," she said. "My father has shoulder surgery and my brother has shoulder problems. About a year ago it just got so bad, I knew I needed surgery."

Doctors told Twichell she had a shoulder rotator cuff injury with bursitis. The competitive swimmer was concerned surgery would keep her out of the pool for too long.

"Swimming is a tough sport in that you know, you take a few days off and you can tell," Twichell said.

Dr. Claude T. Moorman, director of Duke Sports Medicine Center, said Twitchell wanted an approach that would require no more than six to eight weeks out of the water.

"We ended up cleaning out the scar tissue and area above the rotator cuff, and that was the magic she needed to get her going," Moorman said.

In the end, the work paid off and Twichell was back in the water within eight weeks.

"It was definitely tough getting back in shape. It's never fun feeling like you're starting from ground zero," she said.

By January, Twitchell was able to swim with full intensity.

"I feel like I'm back where I need to be," she said. "You know it was tough but more than worth it."

The first round of U.S. national trials for the 2016 Olympic Swim Team will be held Friday.