How Tough Is Kaitlin? Her Three Golds Came After a Concussion!

By Craig Lord

INDIANAPOLIS, October 7. WHEN Kaitlin Sandeno, of the United States, was bashed in the eye with an Australian kickboard and suffered a concussion in the warm-up for racing at the world short-course championships yesterday, medical opinion suggested she might want to withdraw. Her response? Three gold-medal performances that left Michael Phelp's lone victory in the shade.

There was no truth in the rumour that Sandeno's stealing of the
limelight was behind Phelps's withdrawal from the 400 metres medley
yesterday, joked organisers at the magnificent Conseco Fieldhouse NBA hall,
which has been transformed into an exciting temporary aquatic arena for the
five-day championships. Rather, the winner of six Olympic gold medals in
Athens had suffered a strain to his lower back (see Phillip Whitten's Flash! story today) and doctors had prescribed rest, all good news for Britain's Robin Francis, who found himself among the title favorites before the race.

Phelps, who intends to compete in four other events here, was not alone
in the chiropractor's clinic: Britain's Mark Foster, who progressed
comfortably through the qualification heats of the 50 metres freestyle in
22.05sec, 0.23sec behind Jose Meloans, the Argentinian who beat him for the
title in 2002.

Foster, who has won the title three times before, said: "It felt quite
good considering I visited the chiropractor for lower-back pain twice
yesterday…but it's looking good at the moment." He is one of five British
medal hopes here, success expected last night and today from James Hickman
in the 100 metres butterfly, Francis and Alison Sheppard on medley and
Cassandra Patten over 800 metres freestyle.

Those with back pain might wish to look to Sandeno, Olympic silver medal
winner, for lessons in toughness: "I didn't know whether I was going to
race today but I'm here to have fun and enjoy challenges. The truth is
that, while I don't want to play down what I did today, I lived in a dorm
for three years at USC (University of California) and when we raced we did
four events a session with 15-minutes in between. That's tough but it gives
me the edge on all these other girls."

She added: "I'm just having fun here but I had a slight concussion this
morning in the warm-up and I didn't know whether I'd be able to swim
today. It was a huge challenge but Mark Schubert said that I was in better
shape than I thought – he told me to just have fun and I'm riding high on
confidence and the adrenalin of Athens.

Sandeno was accidentally hit in the eye by an Australian swimmer's
kickboard while wearing goggles with no rubber rims. "I just got a big
headache and the doctor said it was up to me whether I wanted to swim but
that I should be careful because I had a slight concussion.

After Indianapolis, she will take a two to three-week break but said: "I
get itchy feet if I'm not training so while I won't be in the water I'll be
keeping fit doing some cross-training and that kinda thing." She will also
be doing swim clinics and will spend only 13 days at home during the next
31. "It's my job. That's what I do. It's fun."

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