A Key to Bruno Fratus’ Quick Rebound from Surgery? Underwater Weight Training.

Olympian Bruno Fratus swam the world’s quickest 50 free of the season back in April at the 2019 Brazil Trophy, seven months to the day after undergoing surgery for a partially ruptured tendon in his shoulder. His key to recovering and quickly gaining back strength? A new underwater workout regimen called Aquabred, founded by former Auburn swimmer Piankhi Gibson, according to a recent feature by The Athletic‘s by David Lombardi.

“We were looking at getting strength back as quickly as we could, but we didn’t want to pound in the gym,” Fratus’ longtime coach Brett Hawke, who also coached Gibson at Auburn, said. “The movements we were doing with Piankhi really allowed Bruno to gain the strength we need back in the shoulder joint. It enabled Bruno to connect core to shoulder, which has given him more feel for the water, power in the water.”

The program, founded in Oakland, CA, submerges standard gym equipment in pools for added benefits. This includes “free weights, treadmills, medicine balls, even bench presses and squat racks,” Lombardi reports. Aquabred claims the underwater environment simultaneously promotes recovery and “the types of strengthening that’ve been historically neglected by land sports.”

Gibson, who started developing Aquabred in 2013, asserts that his methods reduce athlete injury risk by “targeting the body’s all-enveloping fascial network.” He already has eight Bay Area-based NFL players signed on, with plans in place to reach out to teams around the league.

“It builds your lungs. It takes pressure off the body, relieving your body from gravity. It does what everybody says pool workouts do, but (Gibson) is taking it to a different level with the things we are able to do in the water,” said Oakland Raiders running back Jalen Richard.

For Fratus in particular, that includes underwater medicine ball exercises, treadmill running, and stationary cycling (you can watch a more detailed video in the original article, but Fratus also posted the one linked below).

Pop pop pop 💥 @aquabred

Posted by Bruno Fratus on Wednesday, March 13, 2019

While Fratus and Hawke also credit the typical medical personnel you’d expect of injury recovery, Lombardi calls Aquabred “a piece of that puzzle.”


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He still has a horrible start and underwater. Awful fundamentals. He is very fast once he gets going. But he is an overconfident guy who hasn’t improved his start in 10 years. He won’t medal again next summer in Tokyo because of his start. Heard it here first.


c’mon man, he was recovering from surgery. but i see your point


This seems quite silly. Bench pressing and squatting underwater?


They misquoted me on the “bench press” we do push press & weighted squat jumps.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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