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Stoughton overcomes injuries for senior year

BY SHELBY STITES | OCTOBER 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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Peoria, Illinois, is the largest city on the Illinois River and the oldest settlement in Illinois. It’s also the home of 120,000 people and home of Hawkeye swimmer Becky Stoughton.

Stoughton entered the pool and discovered her second home in the water when she was 8 years old and hasn’t been able to get out of the water since.

“Once you get started in this sport, it is very hard to remove yourself from the sport forever,” Stoughton said.

The lessons learned and experiences lived are what has connected Stoughton to the pool for so many years. She said loves getting defeated and proving she can develop herself into a better swimmer.

But toward the end of Stoughton’s freshman year on the swimming and diving team, she was defeated one too many times.

She started to notice pain in both of her ankles at the end of her freshman year; the pain carried over throughout her sophomore year until she had a scope done on both of her ankles in April which took her out of her home in the pool for the rest of the season.

Still in the recovery process from both of her ankle injuries, Stoughton overused her arm her junior year while trying to compensate.

“For the most part I tried to ignore the pain,” Stoughton said. “It wasn’t until I started having trouble doing simple things like pushing doors open and turning my car steering wheel that I knew something wasn’t right.”

Stoughton had another scope performed, this time on her right shoulder in September of her junior year, which took her out of the water for an even longer period of time.

The toughest part of an injury is not only the physical comeback, but the mental comeback. She used the strength that she gained from the pools in Peoria to get back in the water awaiting to become a winning Hawkeye once again.

Multi Site Manager for Physiotherapy Associates — which has locations in Des Moines and Iowa City — and Iowa graduate Alisa Drapeaux specializes in sports medicine and has experience working with athletes after coming off an injury.

“The biggest problems with athletes I work with is the mental fact after recovery,” Drapeaux said. “Setting realistic expectations and goals thought encouragement helps keep my athletes engaged.”

It wasn’t until the second injury that Stoughton realized that she needed to limit herself in the water. She never put a limit on her training before, and there started the struggle of trying to find a balance between pushing herself too hard fostering her injury.

“My biggest mental struggle was limiting myself,” Stoughton said. “I freaked myself out from the first time I tried to comeback and hurt something else.”

With the help of the Hawkeyes, Stoughton was able to progress into the swimmer she is now as she enters her senior year.

“Support is everything when you have an injury, and I can honestly say that I had an amazing support group,” Stoughton said.

But what makes this swimmer rise above the competition is the positive attitude.

“All I have to do is look around. It’s easy to stay enthusiastic around the team,” Stoughton said.

And the energy Iowa fans see on the sidelines makes its way into the pool in every race she swims.

Hopefully for Iowa, this energy will find her way into the NCAA championships … again.

For Stoughton, the key is not to be satisfied with the fact she’s overcome so much. But now that the pain is over she can go back to her home in the water and go back to the sport that has taught her so much over the years.

“Becky is taking ownership of her racing and it is exciting to see,” head coach Marc Long said after the Hawkeyes’ first meet of the season. “It is a matter of focus, having goals, and staying challenged that will put her above the rest.”

Follow @shelbystites on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa women’s swimming and diving team.


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