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Swimming Canada – She still isn’t 100 per cent sure what is causing a shoulder problem, but Erika Seltenreich-Hodgson is finally feeling confident the ailment is being treated.

For the last few months the 2016 Olympian from Ottawa has been dealing with pain in her left shoulder. She’s undergone a battery of tests and been examined by specialists.

“We have ruled a couple of things out,” said the 22-year-old, who attends the University of British Columbia and trains at the High Performance Centre – Vancouver. “We do think we kind of have narrowed down what the problem is.”

The diagnosis from the medical staff is Seltenreich-Hodgson has a muscular problem which causes inflammation. That was affecting the nerves in her shoulder and causing other symptoms.

Not having full use of her arm meant Seltenreich-Hodgson had to modify her training. She did a lot of swimming with one arm and worked on her kicks.

Not knowing what was causing the pain only added to the mental stress.

“The first couple of months of deterioration was pretty frustrating,” she said. “We were trying to maintain and be proactive about it, but we didn’t really know what was happening.

“I was doing everything right and watching myself get worse. It was very demotivating.”

With the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, approaching, Seltenreich-Hodgson thinks she’s finally back on track. She’s back in the water working on her stroke and plans to swim both the 200 and 400-metre individual medley at the Games.

“I have noticed a significant difference,” she said. “I can start using my arms again. I’ve started to be able to swim again.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle mentally. I don’t always feel like I’m putting in the right training, but I am doing what I can, and I think in the long run it will play out fine.”

Coach Tom Johnson has been impressed with Seltenreich-Hodgson’s physical and mental resolve.

“She hasn’t given an inch in her preparation and her training,” said Johnson.

The support Seltenreich-Hodgson has received from the medical and coaching staff, plus her teammates, has been invaluable.

“I’ve always felt super appreciated,” she said. “I haven’t been written off which is really nice.

“I was able to keep my head on my shoulders due to how well everybody else handled the situation.”

Since joining the senior national team in 2013, Seltenreich-Hodgson has experienced peaks and valleys. She qualified for her first Olympics Games in 2016 where she advanced to the 200-m IM semifinals and finished 14th

At the 2017 Canadian Swimming Trials she swam a personal best in the 200 IM and qualified for her second FINA World Championships, where she finished 11th. She recently completed a superlative university career for the UBC Thunderbirds with a Super Grand Slam – winning her fifth career 200 IM gold at the U Sports Championships.

Along the way Seltenreich-Hodgson sought treatment for depression and now has been dealing with the shoulder.

It’s been a unique learning curve.

“It’s been a bit of a ride,” she said. “Everyone wants that perfect trajectory of improvement. I feel like throughout the past five years of being on Team Canada I haven’t exactly had that, despite improving bit by bit (and) despite the different hurdles I have gone through.

“It hasn’t always been one step forward. It’s more like one step forward and two steps back, then a couple steps forward.”

Johnson said Seltenreich-Hodgson’s work ethic and motivation has never failed. He believes she can be a medal contender at the Commonwealth Games, where she finished fourth in the 400 and fifth in the 200 in 2014.

“She is progressing,” he said. “She has really professionalized herself and improved that part of her swimming.”

Seltenreich-Hodgson was disappointed with her performance at the world championships. Her time of two minutes, 11.61 was slower than her 2:10.97 at trials.

What did make her happy was being able to post fast times both in the morning and evening swims, somethings that has be elusive in the past.

“It was the best two swims I’ve had on the same day at any international event ever,” she said. “Sometimes you have to take the little things. 

“I feel like I have more in the tank and more time to shave off. It’s just not been a straight road.”

Originally, Seltenreich-Hodgson thought she might retire from swimming after the Rio Games. Now she plans to swim until the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“I’m at the stage of my life right now where I am aware I am on the outer part of my career,” she said. “I’m not satisfied 100 per cent how I have performed internationally yet, mostly due to the fact I know I have more to give.

“I know I have things to improve on and I’m still learning. I’m still very invested and I really love the sport.”

Another thing Seltenreich-Hodgson really loves is peanut butter. So much so, her favourite pre-race meal is a strange concoction of oatmeal mixed with yoghurt and peanut butter.

“I just love peanut butter way more than the average human being so sometimes I try to incorporate it into as many meals as I possibly can,” she explained.

“That was just one of the discoveries. You put it on enough things and you will discover what tastes good with it.”

The full team list can be found here:

Nathan White

Senior manager, Communications, Swimming Canada

Gestionnaire supérieur des communications, Natation Canada

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