Congratulations to this year's Excellence in Aquatics Award Winner: Coastal Carolina's Barry Lippman, MS, ATC, NASM-PES

Voting is Now Closed!

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 2014 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 the nominees below and vote today! You can vote once a day until June 18th to support your top pick. The winner of the 2014 Excellence in Aquatics Award will be announced in the HydroWorx Booth, #1131, at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s 65th Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium in Indianapolis, IN on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 11:30am. Spread the word on twitter and facebook with  #ExcellenceInAquatics.



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


 Winner! Coastal Carolina's Barry Lippman, MS, ATC, NASM-PES for the Shoulder Rehabilitation of a Division 1 Second Baseman 
Coastal Carolina

This second baseman arrived at Coastal Carolina in August of 2012 as a transfer with severe atrophy and weakness in his right shoulder. Due to the concern of further damaging the shoulder through off season lifting, Barry Lippman, Associate Athletic Trainer and Rehab Coordinator and team decided to utilize aquatic therapy for the athlete’s off season strengthening program.

After a successful progression of therapeutic exercise (in offseason and preseason) the athlete was able to participate in the entire spring 2013 baseball season. The athlete was able to increase his strength safely in the pool enough to complete an accomplished 2013 baseball season.

After the end of the 2013 season the athlete underwent surgery and thankfully had a great base of strength due to the aquatic therapy sessions throughout preseason and the regular season. The surgery was to repair a 1cm by 1cm thick rotator cuff tear, as well as a decompression release of the suprascapular nerve supplying the rotator cuff (which is rarely seen in athletics).

Although the athlete was limited in what he was clea
red to do, Lippman was able to work around the limitations using the aquatic therapy pool with the surgeon’s approval. Lippman had the athlete begin underwater therapy at about two weeks post-op. He began running on the underwater treadmill in the HydroWorx at five weeks post-op and progressed to sprinting against the jets over a three week period. The ability to run in a reduced gravity environment offered a way to implement sprint work roughly four weeks sooner than expected!


Overall, the athlete’s recovery was rapid and he was able to initiate a hitting progression program starting at about 10 weeks post-op and a throwing program starting at 12 weeks post-op. He had also fully returned to play, participating in off season practices and workouts.

At the time of physician’s final follow up, (approximately 6 months post op.) his rotator cuff strength was equal bilaterally (5/5) in all manual muscle tests. He was able to demonstrate full strength of the rotator cuff. Today, the athlete continues to have success on the baseball field with minimal shoulder soreness, while continuing therapy pool workouts once or twice a week in order to maintain throwing strength.





Winner Will Be Announced: 

Friday, June 27, 2014

at NATA Annual Symposium

HydroWorx Booth #1131





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Fortius Sport and Health's Nick Held, M.HK, CSCS

for the Achilles Rehabilitation of Vancouver Whitecap, Jay DeMerit

Coastal Carolina

Six minutes into the first game of the season, Jay DeMerit, defender for the Vancouver Whitecaps, fully ruptured his Achilles and the rumors started that his season, and potentially his career, were over. Jay remained positive and goal-focused throughout rehab, and never doubted that he would play professional soccer again. He underwent surgery to reattach the tendon and began therapy sessions in the HydroWorx 2000 Series pool at Fortius Sport and Health in Burnaby, British Columbia approximately eight weeks after surgery.

DeMerit’s aquatic rehabilitation initially included dynamic movements such as squats, lunges, single leg squatting exercises and heel raises. Additionally he began walking against the jet resistance in order to observe his push off and plantar flexion of the injured side, as well as increase the cardiovascular intensity. As the rehab progressed, other movements included high knees, agility/lateral based movements, initiation of jumping and reaction based movements.


At nine weeks post-op, Jay began jogging pain-free in the pool, progressing up to 4.5 mph with the water at chest height. Just over two months after his injury, Jay was running in 5-10 minute intervals at 6.0 mph + 40% resistance and completing heel raises in between runs. Towards the end of week 11, Jay was running in the pool at the height of the xyphoid process, and completing pyramid runs up to 8.0 mph + 60% resistance. At 13 weeks post-op, Jay began running on land with the Whitecaps medical staff. On July 18th, less than five months post-op, Jay had his last session in the HydroWorx and returned to full training with his team.

On September 14th, he came onto the field to mark his return to professional soccer just six months after Achilles reconstruction surgery. He played the final six games of the 2013 season and helped backstop the Whitecaps during their playoff push without any signs of a lost step or being out for almost an entire season.


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Seton Hall University's Tony Testa, Med, ATC, CSCS
for the Return to Improved Play of a Baseball and Softball Player


Seton HallSeton Hall University had both a baseball and softball player who had experienced oddly identical chronic pain in the hamstring and knee, respectively, throughout their entire 2013 seasons.

The baseball player was initially one of the faster athletes on the team but had experienced significant decline throughout his 2013 season. Following the spring baseball season he was examined under the ultrasound, and the results were abnormal, calling for further treatment.

The softball player initially sought treatment from her primary care physician and had an MRI following her spring season. The MRI revealed no significant joint injury and she was prescribed six weeks of physical therapy. After those six weeks, her physician scheduled her for an orthoscopic knee surgery in early September 2013. However, Tony and his team evaluated the athlete before the surgery and found that was not the best option for her.


Both athletes, as a result of abnormal ultrasounds, underwent a FAST (Focused Aspiration of Scar Tissue) procedure, which involves a 1 mm incision to remove damaged and broken scar tissue.

They both began rehabilitation in the HydroWorx just two days post-op with bio-occlusive dressings. Testa began hydrotherapy by slowly increasing range of motion and progressed them to full range of motion exercises including hip and knee abduction and adduction and knee flexion and extension. By week three, he worked on their range of motion with form running exercises and jogging in the pool. By week four, the athletes were running full speed in the pool. Each athlete rehabbed in the pool 5-6 days per week for 4 weeks straight with no additional land training.

The baseball player had one day of form running on land following the four week aquatic rehabilitation and then had to perform a 60 meter dash test for baseball. He performed this test with no land based training or strength training and he had the best time of his career! The softball player also tested with her fastest time ever. After 4 weeks of aquatic therapy (and no real land training), she performed the best agility test of her career. Both continue to play pain-free.

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The Excellence in Aquatics Award (SMED) Selection Process:


This public voting page will be opened on May 13, 2014 through June 18, 2014 at 11:59PM EDT. Individuals are allowed to vote once per day. At the conclusion of the open voting period, the winner of the public’s vote will count as 1 vote. The finalists will also go through a judging process by a panel of 4 independent judges which will each count for 1 vote, for a total of 5 votes to determine the overall winner.


The winner of the 2014 Excellence in Aquatics Award (SMED) will be announced in the HydroWorx Booth, #1131, at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s 65th Annual Meeting and Clinical Symposium in Indianapolis, IN on Friday, June 27, 2014 at 11:30am.


The 2014 Excellence in Aquatics Award (SMED) Recipient Will Receive:

  1. A trophy commemorating their accomplishments for Aquatic Excellence and a $1,000 cash prize.
  2. The second place recipient will receive a $500 cash prize.