Background Recent injury data for collegiate-level swimming and diving are limited. This study describes the epidemiology of men's and women's swimming and diving injuries reported by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Injury Surveillance Program (ISP) during the 2009/2010 to 2013/2014 academic years.
Methods Injuries and athlete-exposure (AE) data reported within 9 men's and 13 women's swimming and diving programmes were analysed. Injury rates, injury rate ratios (IRR), and injury proportions by body site, diagnosis and mechanism were reported with 95% CIs.
Results The ISP captured 149 and 208 injuries for men's and women's swimming and diving, respectively, leading to injury rates of 1.54/1000 and 1.71/1000 AEs. Among females, divers had a higher injury rate (2.49/1000 AEs) than swimmers (1.63/1000 AEs; IRR=1.53; 95% CI 1.07 to 2.19). Injury rates for male divers (1.94/1000 AEs) and swimmers (1.48/1000 AEs) did not differ (IRR=1.33; 95% CI 0.85 to 2.31). Most injuries occurred to the shoulder, resulted in strains and were classified as overuse or non-contact. Female swimmers had a higher overuse injury rate (1.04/1000 AEs) than male swimmers (0.66/1000 AEs; IRR=1.58; 95% CI 1.14 to 2.19). Overuse injury rates for female divers (0.54/1000 AEs) and male divers (0.46/1000 AEs) did not differ (IRR=1.16; 95% CI 0.40 to 3.34). Injury rates in 2012/2013–2013/2014 were lower than those in 2009/2010–2011/2012 for women's swimming (IRR=0.70; 95% CI 0.52 to 0.95) and diving (IRR=0.56; 95% CI 0.30 to 1.08), respectively. No time trends existed for men's swimmers or divers.
Conclusions Shoulder, strain and overuse injuries were common in collegiate men's and women's swimming and diving. Female swimmers were more likely to suffer an overuse injury than male swimmers. In addition, divers may have higher injury rates than swimmers, although small reported numbers warrant additional research.