Broken shoulder turns into broken record


Tyler McCluskey

Fishman broke the 400-IM school record with a time of 4:03.76 at Summit League Championships after injuring his right collar bone.

Tyler McCluskey, Assistant Sports Editor

Sunday Oct. 16, 2016 in the early hours of the morning, junior Steve Fishman was longboarding with a friend down on a street in the outskirts of Charleston. Fishman was rolling down a steep hill when his longboard started to shake and wobble and then it flew out underneath him causing Fishman to roll on his shoulder, breaking it.

“I didn’t know it hurt until I started to standup and I couldn’t move my right arm that well,” Fishman said. “I could move the bone. I was pushing it down. It was almost at the point where it was breaking the skin, and I pushed it back down to readjust it and that’s what really hurt.”

The swimming season was less than a week away.

Coach Jacqueline Michalski said that she found out within 24 hours of the incident that Fishman was injured. Her initial reaction was making sure Fishman was okay.

“Of course you want your swimmers to be able to compete but at the end of the day, them being healthy is more important,” Michalski said.

On his way to recovery, Fishman sat down with Michalski, doctors, athletic trainers to see what they could do and see if he would be able to return for the season. By December, Fishman was cleared by the doctors and athletic trainers to participate in practice and said that it was tough to catch up to his teammates.

“Once I got the go to start practicing, I tried everything that I could do to get back in shape faster,” Fishman said. “I just had to do something to get back in shape and in the pool faster and catch up with the guys and see if I could do as well as I thought at conference.”

Michalski said that Fishman focused on a lot of biking and tried to make sure his legs were strong when he got back.

“Once he came back, we worked him really, really hard,” Michalski said. “There were a lot of obstacles for the season, but clearly we were able to get him back.”

Fishman chose not to redshirt this season. He said that he researched how long it would take for a broken collarbone to heal, and according to him, it would only take two months to heal and another reason why was because he wanted to prove it to his team that he could come back.

“If I heal by late December (or) the beginning of January and get back into the pool by mid-January, I can do that,” Fishman said. “It was also that I wanted to prove to myself and my teammates that if something bad happens, you can always come back from it.”

Michalski said that not redshirting was the correct decision.

“He may not have a complete season, but the season he did have was very successful,” Michalski said.

Fishman was sidelined until the third-to-last meet against Ball Sate on Jan. 20. In that, he earned himself a pair of top-three finishes in the 200-backstroke and in the 200-free. With the Summit League Championships coming up, with little preparation, things would look better for Fishman.

Then comes day three of the Summit League Championships, where Fishman came up big. After the struggles, after the broken collarbone, Fishman finished ninth overall in the 400-Individual Medley while breaking a school record in a time of 4:03.76. Having the record, Fishman said that it was weird, even after the season he had.

“It felt really good to do it since I came off the injury. I didn’t know how I was going to compete with the guys who had trained all season,” Fishman said. “Who would have thought I came out with a record. I didn’t see it, my teammates think I was going to do something that crazy. But it happened.”

Michalski said that they could not have asked for a better ending for Fishman, not only for this season, but the past three.

“Each year he’s had physically, a few different hurdles he’s had to overcome,” Michalski said. “Him being able to break this record was huge for not only swimming, his mental health, confidence. I think it re-motivated him to drive and really go after his senior year.”

Tyler McCluskey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]