A hip (world-record) trip for instructor


Rene Paramore

As the sun begins to rise, Traci Granger wraps up practice performing her favorite event, the butterfly.

Swimming and CPR instructor Traci Granger broke the national record for the fifty yard butterfly and the world record of the fifty meter butterfly this summer just months after recovering from hip surgery.

Teaching swimming lessons since she was 15, Granger is no stranger to the sport as she gave kids swimming lessons over the years and has coached about 20 swim teams, she said.

“My parents had a pool when I was young, so that’s where I started practicing,” Granger said. “Three to five mornings a week for about an hour and a half is necessary to get better.”

Years later, she finds herself as a faculty member at El Camino doing something she loves more than swimming and breaking records, teaching it.

“I came to El Camino in 1988, and first started teaching aerobics and weight training part time,” Granger said. “Now that I’m teaching swimming, I really enjoy my students.”

Granger added she especially appreciates watching students that were initially unsure of swimming develop their skills.

She said there was a time when she wasn’t swimming and eventually went back to it.

“I was teaching step and circuit training and I pretty much burned myself out with constant pressure to do more,” Granger said. “I got a serious foot injury and some years after that, I started swimming again.”

Granger pushed herself to continue swimming and was eventually ready to take part in competitions.

“After swimming again after a long lay off, I found my passion again in it and wanted to see if I can do it in a competition and see where it goes,” Granger said. “I was tired of giving myself excuses every time I didn’t feel like practicing, so I wanted to compete.”

Granger broke her first record when she was 50 years old, just five years prior to the recent record she broke this past summer.

It was the 50-yard butterfly and, a few months later, she broke a world record for the 50-meter short course butterfly along with a national record of the 50-yard freestyle swim.

In August, Granger “competed in five events, took first place in four, second in one, and broke the world record in the 50-meter butterfly, with a time of 30.97,” according to a press release.

Proud of her recent accomplishments through hard work and dedication, the unexpected happened last year when Granger felt something wrong with her hip.

“I realized something in my hip tore when I was doing squats one day in the gym in the spring of 2012,” she said. “It was pretty bad; the head of my femur, on one side of it was sort of flat instead of rounded. Years of athletics scuffed down hip layer of the joint and tore it.”

Granger had hip surgery last August and couldn’t do anything up until November. Even then she could only do minor easy movements like freestyle and backstroke. Everything else was prohibited, she said.

“After three months of physical therapy, I wanted to get some help from one of the kinesiology instructors here at El Camino,” Granger said.

Granger reached out to Kim Jones, fitness coordinator, to help her return to swimming.

“I asked her to customize some of my workouts sitting down,” Granger said. “I really thought getting a different perspective from a specialist would be important to see crucial improvement.”

Jones specializes in strength and conditioning students on and off season at EC. Finding the right exercise was imminent if we wanted her to get back to the way she wanted, Jones said.

“I took her through a strength and power phase and tapered her off reps lifting exercises,” Jones said. “We really focused on the weight training for the hips, range of motion and getting her stronger on a base level.”