Determination. Innovation. Excellence.


Sports fans everywhere love a good comeback story. The spirit of the game is watching an athlete triumph after recovering from a devastating injury just months before. Behind these great rehab stories are the athletic trainers and medical staff who also sacrificed to ensure this athlete or team (in many cases) would reach their goals.


The 2013 Excellence in Aquatics Award recognizes these professionals who, despite all odds, garnered superior rehabilitation results through innovative, and sometimes unconventional, methods. These pioneers relied on aquatics as a medium to help achieve exceptional results. This year’s nominees, displayed creativity, expertise and courage when it came to rehabilitating their athletes-- and it paid off. Read their stories below.




AND THE NOMINEES (in alphabetical order) WERE…..





Carson-Newman College Football

for Facilitating the Rapid Return from a Fractured Fibula

Last summer, Carson-Newman College’sCarsonNewmanTest starting middle linebacker Jarell Emanuel, sustained a serious injury in practice just days before their season opener. Emanuel sustained a fractured fibula, when he was hit on the lateral aspect of his lower leg during practice. With the team’s first game only 12 days away, his prospects for playing this season did not look good. However, Mike Van Bruggen and the athletic training staff at Carson-Newman had treated a similar injury two years earlier. They were experienced and prepared to recover this athlete as quickly and as effectively as possible.

Their rehabilitation plan began two days after the injury with Jarell walking chest deep in their HydroWorx 1200 Series pool. Within two weeks, the athlete had progressed from walking to jogging, to running and eventually sprinting underwater!


After those two weeks of underwater treadmill training and aquatic therapy, the student-athlete transitioned to running on land. He then began non-contact participation and was finally cleared for contact on September 17th -- just one month after sustaining a fibula fracture in practice. Despite missing 3 games, this athlete had a serious impact as the team’s fourth leading tackler. He also helped to lead the Eagles to the NCAA Division II quarterfinals!

The Duke Basketball Sports Medicine Team

for Managing Potential Season-Ending Injuries to Key Players


The 2012-2013 Duke basketball team was hit with injuries to two key players at critical times during the season.  Ryan Kelly, senior forward, missed 13 games due to a right foot injury while senior guard, Seth Curry, suffered from a right shin injury that kept him from participating in a large majority of the practices during the season. Despite these setbacks, the sports medicine team consisting of Jose Fonseca and Nick Potter, were determined to not allow these injuries define their team's season.


Despite being sidelined for almost two months, Kelly's rehabilitation and training continued daily.  Utilizing the HydroWorx pool, Ryan was able to run underwater and work on basketball specific movements.  He returned earlier than expected for a critical matchup against Miami.  In his first game back, Kelly scored an efficient 36 points (career high) for the team on just 14 shot attempts, securing the victory for the Blue Devils.  In addition to other key rehabilitation efforts, the use of the pool helped to maintain Kelly's conditioning and allowed him to transition from not playing to making an immediate impact.


Curry’s right shin injury was also treated with rest and conditioning on the underwater treadmill, supplemented by focused core and hip strengthening.  Through this individualized type of rehabilitation/performance program as well as practice modification, Curry scored a team high 17.3 points per game during the season and was named a second team All-American by the Sporting News.


Carsonrevised1 Ericresized1
The Duke Basketball Sports Medicine Team Nova Southeastern University’s Dustin Gatens MS, ATC



Winner Announced: 

Wednesday, June 24, 2013

at NATA Annual Symposium

HydroWorx Booth #1553





Eric Sugarman and the Minnesota Vikings Athletic Training Staff
for the Rehabilitation of Adrian Peterson


APandErictestOn December 24th, 2011 Adrian Peterson, while being tackled, incorrectly planted his leg during a run and tore the ACL in his left knee.  Dr. James R. Andrews was selected to perform surgery six days later on the injured knee.  Following surgery, Peterson and Viking’s Head Athletic Trainer, Eric Sugarman, began the rehabilitation process remembering Peterson’s goal of starting in the 2012 Season Opener.  
To achieve this goal, Peterson would need to come back faster than the average timeframe for most ACL reconstruction’s.  He would need to be stronger as well, as returning to the field before that could increase the possibility of re-injury.   The Viking’s medical staff understood this clearly and were determined to walk this tight rope with delicate precision by incorporating water and land therapy exercises to the rehabilitation program.  Just three weeks after surgery, Peterson was walking on the underwater treadmill at the Viking’s facility.  The athlete utilized the HydroWorx pool in the early phases of his rehab, weeks 3 through 12,  to strengthen and to re-train and learn the walk/jog/run progression.  With an unmatched strong-will, work ethic and determination, Peterson gradually progressed to land where at month five of his rehabilitation he notably raced, and beat, teammate Percy Harvin up a hill during an off-season workout.  
Adrian and the Vikings athletic training staff continued this rigorous rehabilitation program for 8 months affording Peterson the opportunity to achieve his goal to return to play at a very high level.  In addition to starting in the season opener, Peterson went on to have the best season of his career finishing with 2,097 rushing yards and being named the NFL’s 2012-2013 MVP.  

Nova Southeastern University’s Dustin Gatens MS, ATC
for the Rehabilitation of Basketball Player, Brian Cahill


NOVA Southeastern’s basketball guard, Brian Cahill, has had a long and hard road to be where he is today. One that started his college career 5 years ago. Thanks to his commitment to play the game again and the expertise of Athletic Trainer, Dustin Gatens and the training staff at NSU, Cahill’s future on the court is a bright one.


Cahill has suffered from serious back and spinal injuries since his senior year in high school. He had his first back surgery in July of 2009 and was able to return to the court in less than four months, however only feeling about 75% healthy. Unfortunately, Cahill reinjured his back in June 2010 while lifting in the off-season. Cahill underwent a second back surgery; this time the surgery was a bit more complex, taking 4 hours to complete.


After this second surgery, Cahill red-shirted, but Gatens worked with Cahill in the therapy pool for rehab and recovery. After the two back surgeries, Cahill was experiencing constant pain and a significant decrease in strength & mobility in his entire lower body. That school year (sophomore year) he was in the HydroWorx 5 times a week up to 90 minutes a day. Cahill left campus in June of 2011, able to play with about a 95% reduction in pain/symptoms. After that 2010-2011 year, Cahill decided to withdraw from school to focus on a full recovery.


He returned to NSU in August 2012 pain free but still with limitations in his lower body mobility (decreased hip internal and external rotation, decreased straight leg hip flexion). At this point, in the fall of 2012, Gatens and Cahill turned to the HydroWorx pool again. Gatens used the HydroWorx 2000 Series pool for his student-athlete to work on increasing overall strength, conditioning, and to bridge the gap from being completely immobile after surgery to moving, walking and running.


After undergoing two surgeries, red-shirting one season, taking another year completely off of school and rehabbing in the pool every day, Cahill was finally able to play in every single game of this past 2012-2013 basketball season! He showed significant improvements in his overall mobility. He led the team in minutes per game (29.1), assists (76), and blocks (16). He was second on the team in rebound per game (5.0) and third in points per game (10.3)!


Selection process:

 The above nominees were selected by a group of individuals who believe in the possibilities of advanced water therapy to help heal athletes and all individuals world-wide. This group included HydroWorx staff members.


The winner will be selected strictly by a peer voting process and will be announced at booth #1553 at the National Athletic Trainers 64th Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium in Las Vegas, NV on Wednesday, June 24th at 12:15pm.