By Mike Watkins//Contributor | Thursday, February 27, 2020
As a competitive swimmer, Matthew Lowe always dreamed of swimming for the United States at the Olympics.
However, during his career, the closest the Texas All-American came to achieving this goal were semifinal showings in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events at 2004 Olympic Trials.
But this year, Lowe is getting the opportunity to finally fulfill his dream without even having to dip a toe in the water.
Dr. Lowe is going to Tokyo with Team USA as a member of USA Swimming’s medial staff – fulfilling a different dream he only recently knew he wanted to achieve.
“This really is a dream come true for me,” said Lowe, a chiropractor who calls Austin, Texas, home who has been part of this team since 2017 World Championships. “Having been on the medical staff for Team USA at 2018 Pan Pacific Championships and 2017 and 2019 World Championships, I know that the Olympics are the pinnacle for me.
“I didn’t get to swim at the Olympics, but I’m really looking forward to helping USA swimmers be at their best physically so they can win.”
Following his semifinal performances at 2004 Trials, Lowe said he went to Trials in 2008 and 2012 with very high expectations of contending for a spot on the Olympic team.
When that didn’t happen, he decided to call it a career at the conclusion of 2012 Trials and enrolled in chiropractic school that fall.
Lowe graduated in December 2015 and – without a single client – opened his own practice in January 2016.
“That was definitely a leap of faith for me, but I always knew I wanted to have my own practice and not work for someone else,” he said. “It didn’t take me long to get out into the community, reconnect with my swimming teammates and start to build my clientele.
“In fact, my first two clients came from the Austin Swim Club, and their coach at the time was my former Texas teammate and friend Brendan Hansen.”
Lowe said he felt confident enough to go out on his own after graduation largely because of the skills and lessons he learned as a swimmer. They carried over into his daily routine and his drive to control his own success.
Knowing it wasn’t a typical move to venture out on his own, Lowe said his mentality as a top-level competitive athlete was all he needed to persevere and make his practice a success.
“I knew I wanted my practice to have a strong element and focus toward sports medicine – using chiropractic practices and methods to treat athletes – especially swimmers – through intensive massage, cupping, acupuncture, etc.,” he said.
“I grew up watching my dad run our family-owned business, and I knew I wanted to do the same. I took my business classes during my undergraduate studies at Texas, but what I really learned about running a business was just through trial and error. I’ve loved every minute of it and haven’t regretted embracing my entrepreneurial spirit one day.”
One of the main reasons Lowe chose a career in chiropractic medicine is because he wanted to do something where he remained close to the sport of swimming.
He knew, despite all of the clinics he did as a member of the National Team, he didn’t want to go into coaching and he always had an interest in medicine, so chiropractic care won out.
“I wanted to do something where I could help swimmers and athletes reach their potential, but I knew it wasn’t going to be as a swim coach,” said Lowe, who was a member of the 2006 Pan Pacific Championship and 2007 World University Games teams. “I’ve always had an interest in medicine, so becoming a chiropractor was the perfect next closest thing.”
As far as getting the opportunity to become a member of the USA Swimming medical staff, Lowe said there was an application process to get in the USA Swimming provider network.
To his knowledge, each healthcare specialty has varying criteria to meet, and from there, individuals are selected/appointed for the positions available (training camps, TYR Pro Swim Series, National teams, etc.).
Regardless of the process, Lowe is more than excited to be onsite for the USA Swimming Training camp post-Olympic Trials and leading up to and during this year’s Games.
He said he knows his role is important in helping the athletes acclimate to a new environment, time zone, sleeping conditions (bed, pillows, etc.) after long travel trips and during day-to-day training and competition so they are at their top physical performance when the gold medal is on the line.
And while he said he knows he’s probably not the best chiropractor in the world, when it comes to working with elite swimmers, he brings an understanding and experience to his role in working with them that most others can’t.
He’s been there, done that.
“These new living and sleeping conditions can be a true shock to the human body on top of close to 24 hours of traveling on an airplane and layovers in airports,” said Lowe, who now has three clinics in Austin as part of his practice.
“I see my role as helping them get used to their new environments so they can perform at their best. I and the rest of the medical team do whatever we can to help them be that.
“Of course, I wanted to be able to compete at the Olympics as a swimmer, but as I look back over my career, I’m very happy with what I accomplished, and all that swimming did for and gave to me. I believe things happen for a reason, and while I didn’t get to compete at the Olympics, I’m now getting the chance to be there in another important capacity. Either way, this is truly a dream come true for me.”