NCAA Champion Paige McKenna Undergoes Surgery to Repair Torn Labrum

University of Wisconsin freshman Paige McKenna underwent surgery on her injured hip on Tuesday.

McKenna won the NCAA title in the 1650 free at the 2022 NCAA Championship meet two weeks ago, swimming with two torn labrums. The labrum is the cartilage that reinforces the joint of the hip.

On Tuesday, McKenna underwent a hip arthroscopy, where doctors repaired the torn labrum in her hip and shaved down the extra bone that was causing the tearing.

McKenna won the 1650 free in 15:40.84 and finished 6th in the 500 free in 4:37.35 at the NCAA Championships. Those 33 points contributed to Wisconsin’s 100 point effort at the NCAA Championships that placed them 17th as a team.

In her post-mile interview at NCAAs, she said that she took up running during the pandemic and after running one time, she noticed pain in her hips. She pushed through increasing pain until she came to Wisconsin, where doctors discovered that she had a torn labrum in her left hip.

Then, a month before NCAAs, her right hip began to hurt, and she found out that she had a torn labrum in that hip too.

At the time, she said that surgery was an option, but that she hadn’t made a decision on that yet. She had been getting numbing injections in her hip to allow her to continue to swim.

The post-surgery prognosis is 3 weeks on crutches, followed by a return to the water in 3-4 weeks mostly focused on pulling with no turns or kicking. She says that likely means she’ll be in an endless pool.

She’s not sure when she’ll be cleared for racing, but the total recovery time to be cleared with no restrictions is 4-6 months.

That still means she’s out for the upcoming USA Swimming International Trials. At last year’s Olympic Trials, McKenna finished 34th in the 400 free, 29th in the 800 free, and 18th in the 1500 free. Her best time in that 1500 free would have placed 10th at the meet.

That should mean she’ll be ready in time to go full bore for the 2022-2023 NCAA season, if not shortly after the start, with a chance to defend her title in the mile.

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NM Coach
2 years ago

Wow – She goes from 18th at Trials to NCAA Champion!! IMPRESSIVE!

2 years ago

Allie Raab just posted that she had the same surgery. Didn’t realize this was a common injury among swimmers.

Reply to  Marty
2 years ago

It’s more common than you would think. I coach a high school team and I’ve had 2 girls have that surgery in the past few years. One was a club team swimmer and the other one just did summer league and high school team.

Reply to  Swimmer0883
2 years ago

I think at least one of the Campbell sisters and eamon Sullivan in Australia have had the same surgery, as well as Kate Haywood and Sophie Allen from the UK. It seems to be quite a common injury for swimmers.

DCC Parent
Reply to  Marty
2 years ago

Just to clarify, it is not a swimmer injury. It is generally a result of misshaped femoral head that wears out the cartilage over time (or a traumatic injury). E.g., genetics play a big role. Its become more common in the last 15 years as orthopedic tools have become available and more surgeons have learned how to perform the procedure.

I had mine done 10 years ago. First 4-6 weeks are rough, but if you follow the recovery protocol it can be a very successful procedure.

The fact she trained and raced (successfully!) is quite impressive. It can be very painful.

Reply to  Marty
2 years ago

There’s high rates for female athletes in particular, not just swimmers.

Former Big10
2 years ago

Any idea where the surgery was done?

Reply to  Former Big10
2 years ago

On her hips

Comments are Closed
Reply to  Former Big10
2 years ago

Didn’t you read? On the hip.

Reply to  Comments are Closed
2 years ago

Question relates to what medical facility, not body part. Duh.

Swim Mom
Reply to  RCP
2 years ago

My daughter, a swimmer as well, just found out she also has a tear on her right hip labrum. Anyone know the medical facility she used for this?

2 years ago

Paris 2024 WATCH OUT

Reply to  Noah
2 years ago

Hell hath no fury like a swimmer with two untorn labrums

Reply to  DCSwim
2 years ago

They only repair one at a time, so she still has one torn one for now. Sometimes it’s manageable without surgery, but she may end up getting the other hip done at some point.

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Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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