Competitive Swimmer is Paralyzed During Swim Practice

Swimming Expert WitnessThis action sports case involves a male college student in Indiana who participated in his school’s division III swim team, under the guidance and supervision of his coach. On the date of the incident in question, he was instructed to practice starting dives in shallow water in the university pool while using diving blocks. While diving, the plaintiff fractured his spine and is now paraplegic, and has had to undergo extensive neuromuscular and functional electrical stimulation (FES) therapy to attempt to regain his muscle control. It was claimed that the coach was negligent in instructing the athlete to practice diving in such shallow water.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your experience coaching/instructing experienced athletes in diving classes.

Expert Witness Response E-005770

I have 20 plus years of coaching competitive swimming where I am a Chartered Professional Coach and hold memberships with multiple professional organizations – I am also trained by the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) at the Competition Development stage. My specialty in the sport of swimming is directly working with youth at the competitive stage and a huge aspect of training is understanding how to use diving blocks in a pool. I also hold first aid CPR C + AED, and I used to be a lifeguard where I held NLS certification for many years, which is now a requirement for any competitive swimming coaches who are on deck during their practice to hold, which may be applicable in this circumstance as you may be able to find out the governing bodies policies on this. Typically when you are training you want to break down the actions of a dive and do a progression of the skill so that the athlete can master each stage before putting it all together. So my first instinct is to ask, what level of diver this individual was (I’d look up the clubs structure for that particular group and ask if they have a checklist of skills/abilities they need to master before being in that group) and what was he taught prior to being sent to the shallower water to practice dives from the blocks. Also, I’d want to question who was supervising this athlete – was he left on his own to try and practice dives? There is no way that you would want an athlete to do shallow dives, without supervision from a coach or another coach on pool deck.

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