By Samantha Dammann, Swimming World College Intern.
Dr. Jim Lynch is an active duty Army Physician who acted as the Team Physician for USA Swimming at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Lynch’s position with USA Swimming is part-time, and he works with a team made up of other volunteers and full-time medical and performance staff to support the USA’s elite swimmers.
“I am only one of a number of other volunteer team physicians from around the country who support USA Swimming in a similar way. In addition to sports medicine physicians, the USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Network is comprised of athletic trainers, physical therapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors. Most of these USA Swimming medical staff are volunteers who support national and international competition, training camps, and sports medicine task forces to address health issues important to swimmers across the nation,” Lynch said.
Lynch first became involved with USA Swimming in 2011, when his application to the US Olympic Committee volunteer sports medicine program was accepted. His first assignment was at an international competition with USA Swimming in Russia and Germany, and he’s stayed with swimming ever since.
“It would be a huge honor for me to work with any Olympic or Paralympic athletes, but I got the first opportunity to work with swimming and have been fortunate to remain part of this outstanding organization. As the winningest team of all time across all sports, USA Swimming is a dream assignment for any sports medicine professional. What an incredible opportunity! I’ve gotten to work with phenomenal athletes, coaches, and staff- many of whom are also just great people outside the pool,” Lynch said.
While at USA Swimming competitions, Lynch and the other volunteers work as a multidisciplinary team to care for athletes. Lynch uses a variety of skills to care for athletes during competition and training events, such as performing procedures, assessing musculoskeletal injuries, and optimizing treatment for chronic conditions. Timely care is essential, so Lynch and his team rely on one another’s strengths and areas of expertise to make sure the athletes get the help they need.
The goal of Lynch’s work is to maximize athletes’ performances by maximizing their health. Lynch wants to help athletes improve and hopefully get more medals, but he refuses to compromise their long-term health in order to do it.
“This is a tough sport and takes a lot of dedication. Our elite athletes have earned the right to have the best medical staff caring for them and professionals who take this responsibility seriously,” Lynch said.
Along with directly impacting the health of athletes, Lynch and the USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Network work to advocate for swimmer safety by educating athletes, coaches, and families across the nation.
Lynch has an unparalleled appreciation for the work he does with USA Swimming and the people he has the opportunity to work with. While being at the Rio Olympics was an incredible experience, Lynch’s favorite moments aren’t so much about specific competitions as they are about the people and nation he works for:
“My favorite moments, though, have been at the end of competitions, cheering on relays with the rest of the team. And also all the podium ceremonies when the Star Spangled Banner plays and Old Glory gets raised…and you get a lump in your throat! You just can’t beat that,” Lynch said.