Grant Shoults Opens Up About Second Shoulder Surgery, Recent 8:44 PR in 1000 FR

Stanford redshirt senior Grant Shoults posted a thread to Twitter over the weekend, detailing the physical and mental recovery process after his second shoulder surgery since 2019. Shoults, who has been quiet on social media for a while, had surgery in July 2020 on his left shoulder to repair a damaged labrum; it’s his second surgery since starting at Stanford, following labrum surgery on his right shoulder in January 2019. On Twitter, he also offered a peek into his recent performance, highlighted by an 8:44 1000 free in practice, as well as a 1:50.2 in the 200 free in long course.

Shoults has not had a traditional collegiate swimming experience. After winning the Pac-12 500 free titles in 2017 and 2018 as a freshman and sophomore, he underwent shoulder surgery in the middle of his junior season after dealing with chronic pain in the fall semester (this was fall 2018). His surgery came after a breakout summer 2018 in long course, where he finished second in the 400m free at the 2018 U.S. National Championships to qualify for the 2018 Pan Pacs and, later, the 2019 World Champs with Team USA.

Before his junior year surgery, Shoults also raced at those Pan Pacs, where he placed fourth in the 400 free and just missed the podium. Post-surgery, Shoults still made the trip to Worlds, taking 25th in the 400m free in prelims (3:52.96), only about six seconds off of his lifetime best.

Shoults was back racing for Stanford for the 2019-20 season, his redshirt junior season, and he earned a triumphant third 500 free title at the 2020 Pac-12 Championships. In summer 2020, though, Shoults’ latest battle with shoulder issues re-emerged.

As detailed in his Twitter thread below, Shoults had what he describes as ‘minor shoulder issues’ last summer, but ended up going into the operating room for another SLAP tear surgery  (a procedure where a torn labrum is re-attached to the shoulder socket) in July. This time, he had the surgery done on his left shoulder, after it was his right shoulder that was repaired in January 2019.

Pre-surgery, he was told it would be a 9-12 month recovery timeline before he could train again; that changed drastically, though, when the surgeon discovered mid-surgery that Shoults’ labrum damage wasn’t as bad, so a less invasive procedure was completed instead.

The next month, Shoults was back in the pool for limited training, and on October 12 he was discharged from physical therapy.

On October 23, at a Stanford intrasquad meet, he suited up for the first time since surgery and clocked a 9:00.2 in the 1000 and 1:57 in the 200m free in long course. He was only 12 seconds off of his lifetime best in the 1000, while he was about ten seconds off of his best in the 200.

Shoults then took November and December off of racing, sticking with a consistent training block with little rest.

Last week, in a couple of suited swims during practice, Shoults dropped the hammer: he clocked an 8:44.7, unofficially a lifetime best by over three seconds (old PR 8:48.03), and hit a 1:50.2 in the 200m free, less than three seconds off of his PR there. In that 200 free, Shoults tells SwimSwam that freshman Preston Forst just edged him out with a 1:49.9, which is an unofficial best time for Forst by about two seconds.

At the end of Shoults’ Twitter thread, which you can see by scrolling to the bottom of this article, you can read his big takeaways and lessons from his recovery process.

As Shoults is quickly getting back into form, he’s uncertain about his ability to swim collegiately after this season. He’s currently a redshirt senior in his fifth year due to his junior year redshirt season due to his first surgery.

Shoults tells SwimSwam that he will be deemed ineligible upon graduating unless he enrolls in a co-term or grad school program, but that isn’t really an option as he’s planning on going to med school after he graduates. He does, however, have the ability to delay graduation until 2022 if he’s able to swim next season, an option as the NCAA is offering an extra year of eligibility to winter athletes due to COVID-19. While the NCAA would allow Shoults to do a fourth season and sixth year, Shoults says there are still roadblocks: he’d need the Stanford athletic department to match aid and scholarship funding from pre-COVID for a fifth-year athlete, and he’d also need them to allow him back for a sixth year.

“If that were to happen, I would be thrilled as I would be able to swim, teach, work and finish the last of my pre-meds at Stanford,” said Shoults.

For now, though, he’s focused on his continued recovery, school, and making the most of the rest of this truncated season.


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2 years ago


2 years ago

Imagine swimming at that level while also prepping to become a doctor. This is the guy that kids should look up to. The real inspirations are the ones go strive to be the best in their sport while also pursuing their career-focused dreams.

Anonymous Apricot
2 years ago

Chongo 👊🏼

2 years ago


2 years ago

He’s back in the radar. I wanna know what Ledeckys times were. Need a podcast

Big Cat
2 years ago

Amazing journey

2 years ago


About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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