One of the Elite Area grad helps Olympic swimmers prepare for 2016
You could say that Dr. Jason Batley has had a successful career.
The 1988 Freedom graduate grew up in Bethlehem and eventually went on to become an orthopedic surgeon.
Now, he's part of a new swim team located just outside of Charlotte, NC, that is preparing some of the top swimmers in the country for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Batley, who has lived in Davidson, NC, for the past five years, is the head team doctor for an organization called Team Elite, which is led by legendary Auburn and national team coach David Marsh.
Team Elite is a subsidiary program and is a part of the larger SwimMac Carolina club, whose objectives are to focus solely on the unique training and professional needs of postcollegiate athletes, as well as selected high school and college swimmers, preparing to achieve national and international swimming success.
The mission of the program is to keep United States swimming as one of the perennial contenders in the world, as well as give youth swimmers in their organization visual proof that competing in the Olympics is an attainable goal.
The team produced three Olympic medals in the 2008 games and sent five swimmers to the 2012 US Olympic Swim team.
Batley joined the club seven months ago after hearing Marsh speak at a conference and proceeded to introduce himself.
"I've had experience dealing with professional hockey and lacrosse players and thought that I could bring something to the table," said Batley in regards to his conversation with Marsh. "I thought my previous experiences dealing with athletes would be beneficial to the program and I've been apart of it ever since."
Batley is the team doctor for Team Elite and is available on call 24/7 for the athletes apart of the program.
Part of his responsibilities include illness prevention, identifying errors in training that could lead to injury and a psychology component to help the athletes maintain mental toughness.
One of the unique aspects of this club is having so many Olympic-caliber swimmers training under the same roof.
There are five swimmers on Team Elite that have medaled in the Olympics, one of which being three-time Olympian, 11-time medalist and five-time gold medalist Ryan Lochte.
"That's really the great thing about this program," Batley said. "Most of these Olympic swimmers would train with their coaches leading up to the games. They'd swim for five hours a day, six days a week and then hit the weight room and kind of be isolated from other swimmers that were trying to do the same thing as them.
"With this team, they all have common ground because there's swimmers that have been to the Olympics before and who have won medals. It gives them a social network of friends, while they're competing and training, which is an important element for all the sacrifice they put into the sport."
Team Elite is the largest representation of current and former Olympic swimmers training together in the United States and Batley is happy to be on for the ride.
Whether he gets an invite to Rio in 2016 is still up in the air, but he'll be apart of everything for the next two years as the swimmers prepare for their Olympic dreams.
He'll even have the opportunity to improve his 50-meter time.
"I'm in pretty good shape, but when you're around these athletes, it makes you really think about what type of shape you're in," said Batley. "I got into the pool once and swam 50 meters in about 50 seconds. Cullen Jones swam that in just over 21 seconds. They really are just unbelievable."
No matter what happens moving forward, Batley knows this collective group will achieve success and that rubs off on him, as well as the young swimmers in the program.
"I saw Cullen's gold medal from Beijing and it's truly inspiring," he said. "The effort they put into that medal makes you really appreciate it yourself. It makes you want to be a better person and that's the greatest thing this program gives back to the youth of our program. It let's the kids see that becoming an Olympian is possible."