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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Chitwood cherishes time at UA, overcomes injury

Arizona swimmer Cory Chitwood has had an illustrious career to say the least.

The senior is a 12-time collegiate All-American, has two NCAA individual championship victories and holds the second-fastest 100-yard back, 200-yard back and 200-yard individual medley times in Arizona school history.

But those accomplishments almost never came to be thanks to a shoulder injury that cost Chitwood his entire sophomore season.

“I tore my labrum and had to get that reattached, and had to get two or three tendons in my rotator cuff tightened up,” Chitwood said.

Collegiate swimming is a year-round sport with few, if any, breaks throughout the calendar year. So when Chitwood’s ability to swim was taken away from him and the possibility of not swimming anymore became apparent, it hit him hard.

“Swimming is pretty much my life,” Chitwood said. “It’s what I think and breathe all day, every day. When that happened I just kept asking myself, ‘Why? Why does this have to happen to me?’”

Despite the tough road to recovery that was laid before him, Chitwood persevered and spent his entire sophomore year — in which he was granted a medical redshirt — rehabbing and trying to prepare himself for the following season.

“We were a month into the season and I had to have the surgery. We hadn’t competed yet, which was good so I was able to get the redshirt with no problems at all,” Chitwood said. “After that surgery, I just started rehabbing for eight or nine months and was able to get right back into the swing of things the following year.”

Being forced to spend an entire year recovering instead of being in the pool with his teammates was tough on Chitwood. But he took the situation in stride.

“It was one of the hardest things that I’ve had to do in my life,” he said. “I just wanted to be there with (my teammates), but it was good for me.”

It was good for him athletically, personally and maybe even professionally. Following his recovery, the next two seasons proved to be impressive.

His accomplishments included multiple Pac-10 Swimmer of the Month awards, being named Male Sophomore of the Year in 2010 and Male Junior Athlete of the Year by Arizona Athletics last season.

While Chitwood obviously doesn’t ever want an injury of that severity —or of any kind — to reoccur, he said he became a better person because of the whole situation.

“(The injury was) probably one of best things that ever happened to me, just being able to get out of the pool for a year and see things in a different view and appreciate everything that much more,” Chitwood said. “I’ve been rehabbing on it because I never want to have to go through something like that again.”

His time away from the pool helped him to develop skills in another area that he’s passionate about — coaching.

“It was good because I want to be a college swim coach,” he said.
And Chitwood has a resume formed behind pretty prominent mentors. For three seasons, he swam for former Arizona coach Frank Busch, the legend who recently departed the UA to work for USA Swimming.

Chitwood’s mother, Karen, was a collegiate swimmer at the University of Cincinnati for Busch, and she has been training Chitwood for his entire life. His mother has probably had the biggest impact on his life, he said.

“She’s been a great influence on me and she’s taught me the true meaning of hard work because she would never let me slack,” Chitwood said. “She knows me probably the best of any coach I’ve ever had. She’s not afraid to call me out on something or say something to me even if I don’t want to hear it.”

Now, Chitwood has one more season at Arizona before he goes on to the professional level.

“I’m just looking to have a great senior year to cap it off with NCAAs and try to get ready for Olympic trials and see what I can do there,” Chitwood said. “I’m just trying to do it best way I can … so I can look back on my career here at Arizona and not have any regrets.”

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