Klaudia Greer might someday follow in the footsteps of her orthopedic surgeon.
By STEVE LEE
Editor, Florida Hockey Life
TAMPA, FL— Accomplished swimmer Klaudia Greer is extremely thankful to her orthopedic surgeon from the Florida Medical Clinic for helping her return to success in the pool. So much so, in fact, that she just might follow in the footsteps of the man who performed her surgery at neighboring AdventHealth Tampa, Dr. Ira Guttentag.
A Newsome High senior, who also swims at the club level for Tampa Bay Aquatics, Greer verbally committed to swim for Florida State University in October, selecting the Tallahassee campus over such prominent Division I schools as Kentucky, Ohio State and Penn State. That decision came after visits to all three universities.
“It was an overall better fit and close to home,” Greer reasoned.
Greer, who ranks in the top six percent of her class, carried a weighted grade-point average of 5.97 and 3.97 unweighted. She has a Bright Futures Scholarship with more academic and possibly athletic financial aid forthcoming.
What she plans to major in, however, carries quite a bit of weight as well. Greer plans to study pre-med, which gives her a few things in common with Guttentag. Like Greer, Guttentag was a young athlete and suffered an injury while playing sports.
Greer had her right shoulder strengthened by Guttentag, who also repaired a tear he encountered while performing that surgery. As for his part, Guttentag had a dislocated shoulder fixed among several injuries he endured.
And while being a former athlete who suffered injuries gave Guttentag plenty of insight as he worked his way through medical school and became a surgeon, Greer just might use her similar experiences to follow along the same path.
“Maybe I’ll intern with him or something,” she said, noting that she remains unsure of which area of medicine she plans to concentrate on down the line.
For now, Greer is finally reaping the rewards of a successful surgery and extensive rehabilitation program prescribed by Guttentag, physical therapists and coaches. Her times in the freestyle events — the 50, 100 and 200 — along with her efforts in the 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke, have dropped steadily throughout the season.
“I’ve been improving each time I swim,” Greer said. “I’m definitely going in the right direction.”
The right direction could lead to a fourth straight state swimming appearance for Greer, who has advanced that far in her three previous prep seasons. Her best results at that level came as a sophomore when she finished third in the 100 free and fifth in the 200 free.
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A swimmer since the age of 7, the wear and tear on Greer’s shoulders took a toll by the time she reached high school. Having tried physical therapy and such, she finally opted for surgery last January after TBay coach Dave Gesacion recommended Guttentag.
“She’s a really high-level swimmer,” Guttentag said. “Just from the miles of swimming, they [swimmers] stretch out their shoulder capsules.”
And that, in turn, the doctor added, loosens stability in the shoulder joints. That is partly why Guttentag said the most challenging people to fix are throwers (notably baseball pitchers) and swimmers, “because they have the most impact on their shoulders.”
“I’ve been swimming for so many years, so [her shoulder] got really loose and stretched out,” Greer said. “Shoulder injuries are really common in swimmers.”
Guttentag, 56, also is the team physician for the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Storm. Regardless of the athlete, young and old or male and female alike, he maintains that physical therapy and rehabilitation are vital components of treating injuries. Surgery, he wholeheartedly believes, should be the last option.
“We explored all options, because surgery was a last resort, he told us,” Greer said. “He made sure I knew exactly what the surgery entailed. I had a lot of confidence in him, because he had been there with me.”
“He definitely does not want to do surgery unless it is absolutely necessary,” said Kim Greer, Klaudia’s mother. “It makes you feel good, because you don’t want your child to go into surgery. And the recovery process is so long.”
Greer’s road to recovery has taken nearly a year and Guttentag never gave her any unrealistic expectations. That set just fine with the young athlete and her mother.
“He’s definitely reassuring,” Kim said. “He didn’t make any false promises. He let [Klaudia] know that it would be a year until she got to her best times.”
Having been a young athlete with a self-described “passion for sports” has enabled Guttentag to have a special understanding and compassion when it comes to young athletes. So too has being the father of three now-adult children who played sports.
“I can actually relate to the parents and young children quite nicely,” he said.
Greer is so pleased with Guttentag’s treatment, demeanor and knowledge of sports injuries that she even recommended the doctor to her Newsome teammate Leslie Peterson.
“He’s really calm and reassuring,” Greer said of Guttentag. “I know he has kids who played sports, so he wanted to do what’s best for me. I recommended him to friends on the swim team. I told them that he’s really good.”
Greer’s mother is equally impressed with Guttentag, saying, “He takes his time with his patients. He’s very reassuring and detail-oriented.”
Florida Hockey Life Magazine and publisher Wayne Pappolla are thrilled to have AdventHealth Tampa and Florida Medical Clinic as sponsors. This summer, Florida Hockey Life had the privilege of meeting Dr. Ira Guttentag and the staff at AdventHealth Tampa and Florida Medical Clinic. Editor Steve Lee sat down with the doctor to discuss his role as team physician for the Lightning as well as his work with young athletes. This is the third installment of a four-part series.