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Brian Smith: a Massage Therapist Aims for Gold


Brian Smith provides massage treatment for swimmers competing for a spot on the US Olympic Swimming Team.

Hoboken, NJ, August 13, 2008 --(PR.com)-- As an instructor at Cortiva Institute and Staff Massage Therapist for Rutgers University Swimming Team, one of the most memorable of many events for Brian was watching Jessica Botzum, an All-American swimmer from VA Tech, finish her qualifying event in a dead tie for the last spot in the finals to make the Olympic Team. Given how precise the timing equipment is, this is an extremely rare occurrence. Jessica climbed out of the competition pool and went quickly back to the warm-up pool, knowing she has only a short time to get ready for the next race, the tie breaker. It was possibly the last, but certainly the most important race in her swimming career. After only a few laps, she stops and asked... "Where's Brian?"

This US Olympic Trial Competition was the largest swimming meet in US history. Held at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska June 29 to July 6, it was truly a record breaking week. Brian was responsible for 15 swimmers from 5 colleges (Rutgers, Va Tech, U Cal at Berkeley, Brown and West Point Military Academy).

"I was one of the busiest and most utilized therapists at the trials that week. These world class swimmers realize the importance and value of massage, and truly understand how it improves their performance," said Brian.

A typical day at the USA Olympic Trials started with the athletes reporting to the pool around 9 a.m., immediately making their way to the large treatment area that contained 25 massage tables. Most mornings prior to his teams arrival, Brian was fortunate enough to do his own pre-work stretching a few tables over from another early-bird doing the same, gold medal favorite Michael Phelps. Brian would then provide pre-event massages for his swimmers, after which they would do a warm-up swim. This was often an hour long itself. (During the regular season, a typical training day could include swimming anywhere from 5000 to 16000 meters.) After their warm-up, they would get a little ‘fine tuning', working on specific areas that needed extra attention. This was before the 20 to 30 minutes they would spend squeezing into the new hi-tech ‘fastest in the world' racing suits from Speedo.

After that, guess what? More massage! Treatments took place before and right after the races as the competitors stepped out of the ‘cool down' pool. Pre- and post-event massage is critical for recovery and preparing for the next event, which was likely to mean another world or U.S. record this year. The day continued with massaging the swimmers back at the hotel during a busy afternoon involving lunch, meetings, naps, and a return to the pool at 5:00pm to do it all over again. There were also treatments between 10 pm and midnight after the evening sessions. Exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

Practicing massage at his 2nd Olympic Trials (Long Beach, CA in 2004 was his first) was one of many highlights in Brian's career. He has dedicated over 15 years to helping people perform their sport to perfection, and teaching others the skills to be a great massage therapist. Brian is not the typical therapist. He is a former US Marine, a competitive track bicyclist, and has clients of the 2 and 4 legged variety. Brian reluctantly admits that even the dogs and horses he massages swim faster than he does.

Brian is an advocate for sports massage. After working with these national and world class athletes, he feels he has benefited in many ways.

"Over the years, they have taught me about training methods and techniques, nutrition, dedication, humility and work ethic. Just being around competitors like these at the top of their game is inspiring."

With all the options and variety of working environments in massage therapy, Brian has chosen excitement and bright lights of the sidelines. His clients include players from the NY Giants, NJ Devils, NCAA champions, Olympic athletes, and even 1,600 pound horses.

"It's exciting to have to think on your feet during events. A competitor can come to you in between races with a specific problem and expect you to ‘fix it', and quick; the next race could be in 5 minutes."

While massage therapists may not ‘fix' people, they do facilitate healing and improve muscle conditions in a way that allows the client to perform better. Helping a competitor who can't turn her neck after thousands of laps in the pool-while turning her head to the right each time for air - is like treating an ‘occupational athlete' who uses the phone pinned on the right shoulder all workday. What caused the pain may be different, but the massage treatment can have the same benefits for each person.

So, how did it go for Brian and the competitors? Although none of the 15 swimmers he worked with made the Olympic Team this year, most of them achieved their lifetime best results. Brain was also able to witness firsthand some of the most memorable accomplishments including nine world and twenty one U.S. records being set. Michael Phelps and Katie Hoff made history by setting world records on the first day. Dara Torres became the oldest US swimmer to qualify for the Olympic team. Over 96,000 people watched the event in person, and the event scored high ratings on the NBC and USA Network coverage.

Brian summed up this amazing experience:

"This was a week where the athletes knew that a few 1/100th's of a second could mean the difference between a trip to Beijing to represent their country... or a trip home to possibly continue training to try again in 4 years... They needed every muscle involved to be working at its maximum potential. My job was to make a small contribution towards them achieving their goals. I feel honored to be afforded this rare opportunity to help."

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About Brian:
Brian Smith, a Somerset School of Massage Therapy graduate (now Cortiva Institute), has been a massage therapist for 15 years. He has worked with performance athletes including 10 college and university swim teams, NCAA championships, Olympic Team trials, and professional athletes of the NY Knicks and NJ Devils. He has been the staff therapist for the NY Giants and the NJ Repertory Ballet Company. Brian is currently the staff therapist of the Rutgers Swimming and Diving Team, and an Instructor at the Cortiva Institute in Piscataway, NJ. He can be reached at brsmith@cortiva.com.

About Cortiva Institute
Cortiva is an education company that believes in a new kind of professionalism – one that brings progressive health and wellness professionals to the world; active dynamic individuals that are involved, competent and compassionate. Cortiva's growing list of locations includes New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, Washington, Arizona and Massachusetts.
Contact Information
Cortiva Institute
Fernando Lopez
201-215-6314
Contact
www.cortiva.com

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