A shoulder injury temporarily derailed his varsity swimming career with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, but it was Theoren Goosney who made the final decision to end it.
Goosney is entering his fifth year of an engineering physics degree at UBC — a degree he likely could have earned already if not for his time in the pool.
“I’m a little bit behind where I was swimming varsity,” he said. “I was only doing four and five courses a term. I was supposed to be doing eight and nine, which is ridiculous, but now it’ll take me a little over six years to get it done.”
He’s only got four terms left to the degree, so he plans on doing them in succession with no breaks.
“Right now I just want to finish school,” he said. “I’m in that far I’m just really looking forward to the end.”
That new attitude, combined with a rapid improvement in UBC’s swimming program, made him take a step back and realize trying to make the team wasn’t something he felt he wanted enough anymore.
“I really don’t think I’d be able to, to tell the truth,” he said of making the team. “The team right now is just getting faster and faster.”
He doesn’t blame the shoulder injury — a torn labrum — for taking him out of the pool. In fact, he believes his shoulder is currently at about 95 per cent of what it was.
A year-and-a-half break in swimming, while still training at the gym to strengthen his muscles back up, has improved the shoulder to the point where Goosney doesn’t feel he’ll require surgery, which once seemed like a forgone conclusion.
“I thought surgery would have to go ahead, but I’ve heard from a couple of sources that it’s make-or-break,” he said. “You either get the surgery and it comes back perfect or you get it and it can really mess you up.
“I took the chance and took time off,” he continued. “I’m glad I did because right now it’s pretty much fine. I don’t notice anything abnormal.”
It’s not perfect, he admits. There’s still pain and discomfort at times, but nothing comparable to what he was experience when he first injured the shoulder in December 2011 after hooking the ski of his snowmobile into an obstruction in the snow while home for Christmas break.
“When I got the injury, a lot of the muscles around it were a lot looser ... they got messed up as well, I guess,” he said. “Whenever I’d do anything, I could feel my shoulder half popping out.
“The year-and-a-half gave me time to strengthen the muscles and now it’s not good as new, but it’s as close as it’s ever going to get.”
Though he was a gym rat during his time out of water, he finally began swimming again in February with the UBC masters swim team — a diverse group of parents, ex-varsity swimmers, triathletes and others that like to swim competitively, but not to the level of commitment required for the varsity team. At just 22 years old, Goosney is one of the youngest members, but that doesn’t give him any advantages over his teammates.
“Everyone there is pretty quick,” he said. “They’re pushing me every practice.”
Picking it up again possible
He’s completing a work term in St. John’s over the summer and swims for a half-hour a day during his lunch break to keep his water fitness up. He’ll only be 23 when he graduates, so he figures he could easily pick up swimming competitively again after school ends.
“I’m still swimming pretty quick,” he said. “I’d stop doing lunchtime swims, get back to an actual training routine, and there’s no reason why I couldn’t get to where I was and beyond.”
Swimming wasn’t Goosney’s only sporting passion growing up in Corner Brook. He participated in Markus Karate Schools since he was in Grade 2 and was awarded a black belt in 2008. He gave up the sport in 2010 after he graduated high school, but noticed a karate class at UBC during his third year there and picked it back up. He was unable to continue last year because his school work overwhelmed him — “By far my hardest year, but I ended up with good grades, so I can’t complain” — but believes he will get back into it again this fall.
And, for the record, he’s less concerned about his shoulder at karate than he is when he’s swimming.
“It’s not as strenuous as swimming, but I’ll have to watch it sometimes,” he said. “If we’re doing self-defence and flipping each other over and stuff, I’ll just have to warn the other person not to push my shoulder back too far. Just to be on the safe side.
“I’m sure it will be OK, but I don’t want to take any chances on it when it’s not really necessary.”