By Emily Aasand, UND University Relations student writer
UND athletic trainer and physical therapist Robin Tracy keeps student-athletes on top of their game in hopes they might one day win it all. What’s not well known about Tracy is that this 40-something dynamo is, herself, a national champion.
On July 8, Tracy took first place in the United States Masters Swimming competition in the 50-meter breaststroke.
She was among eight members of the Grand Forks Masters Swimming team that competed in the United States Masters Swimmer (USMS) Summer Nationals in Omaha, Neb., July 5-8. Not only was Tracy the national champion in her age group, she won her title in the same pool used the week before for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“The pool had state-of-the art blocks and timing systems,” Tracy said. “It was built to be a very fast pool and we could tell.”
Throughout the meet, there were media interviews and the event announcers kept the crowd informed of world and national record swims.
“I wouldn’t say I get nervous for my events,” Tracy said. “It’s more like I’m excited and hyped up for the swim. During my 50-meter breaststroke I was surprised I couldn’t see any other swimmers and after touching the wall I looked at the scoreboard and saw the ‘1’ by my name. I was very happy and relieved – winning that race was my goal.”
Tracy began swimming at age six and hasn’t stopped since. After graduating high school in Alexandria, Minn., Tracy went to Minnesota State University, Mankato to swim and pursue an athletic training degree.
Tracy’s love for sports helped spark her interest in athletic training.
“I knew I wanted to do something with sports and yet I wanted that medical aspect,” she said. “Athletic training was the perfect combination of both of those things.”
Tracy later pursued a physical therapy degree so she could get more experience on the rehabilitation side of sports medicine.
“Going through college I’ve always wanted to mesh working with athletes and teaching so when I called UND to ask about their athletic training job they said not only did it require some teaching, but they were looking for someone with a physical therapy background as well.”
It was exactly what Tracy was looking for.
Tracy works as an assistant professor in the UND Sports Medicine Department as well as a physical therapist and athletic trainer at the UND Center for Sports Medicine. She sees patients with sports related or orthopedic injuries during the day and also does rehab for athletes who have had surgery.
“I work with athletes from every sport, everyone from basketball and swimming to softball and soccer,” she said. “The teams’ athletic trainers might be out of town with the team so we work with those athletes who stay back.”
She also sees patients from the community.
“Our office is open to the public,” Tracy said. “Most people think we work with just athletes, but we see all kinds of patients in the office.”
Having swum most of her life, Tracy was quick to join the Grand Forks Masters Swimming Team after taking her job at UND. The team holds practices five days a week from, 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., in the Hyslop Sports Center pool.
This year the Grand Forks Masters Swimming team has had the privilege to be coached by Shaun Seaburg, who used to swim for UND.
“Having him as a coach has really benefited us. He’s done such a great job,” Tracy said. “He’s been very good with helping the swimmers with stroke techniques and he writes good workouts for us.”
Grand Forks Masters Swimming was founded in 1987. It is a USMS-affiliated team comprising swimmers ages 18 and older.
“Anyone who wants to become a better swimmer; whether it’s for fitness, triathlons or if they want to do competitive swimming; it’s a good program,” Tracy said.
Grand Forks Masters Swimming currently has more than 40 members, including UND faculty members and students.
USMS is a national organization that provides organized workouts, competitions, clinics and workshops for adults. All USMS programs are designed to help swimmers train for specific goals, and offer active support for a healthy lifestyle.