Swimmers recover from concussion

Travis Cammon

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it can happen in any sport, including swimming and diving.

ISU swimmers Dani Harris and Breanna Loeschke both suffered concussions early in the season that sidelined them for a short period of time after an accident in practice.

“They were supposed to be swimming on each side of the line,” said swimming coach Duane Sorenson. “Normally we have them swim circles and one of them forgot they were swimming a circle and the ended up colliding their heads.”

Both were taken out of the pool and put in the hands of the training staff, which gave them the entire arsenal of tests required to check for concussions.

“I don’t really know what happened,” Loeschke said. “They made us repeat all of these numbers starting from one to five forwards and backwards. It was really frustrating.”

Loeschke, however, was not out for too long, only missing two and a half weeks before making her debut for Iowa State at its Oct. 15 dual meet against Minnesota.

“It was the first time where I was going to be swimming hard,” Loeschke said. “I was still getting little headaches and I was really scared to get back in there.”

For Harris, who was the Cyclones’ Most Valuable Swimmer a year ago, a return was not quite as smooth as her teammate’s. She was able to return for the Minnesota meet but was again sidelined due to an illness.

“I don’t like being out of the water,” Harris said. “I felt like I let the team down, and I was really worried as was going to miss a lot of meets.”

Both swimmers were able to return for the Northwestern Invitational on Nov. 18, with Harris placing second in the 200 backstroke and third in the 50-yard backstroke, while Loeschke finished eighth in the 50-yard freestyle and fourth in the 200 backstroke.

“Bre did outstanding at the [Northwestern] meet,” Sorenson said. “It was her lifetime best in the 100 [backstroke], 200 [IM] and 200 [backstroke]. And with Dani, it was a kind of ‘let’s just go out and see what happens’ and as each race went on she got more and more confident in herself and her ability.”

Harris and Loeschke, as well as the rest of the Cyclones, will be back in action Friday at 6 p.m. against in-state rival Iowa for the Cy-Hawk challenge.