Andy Eberheart's path is not unlike that of Olympic superstar Michael Phelps.
Both worked at their craft until they reached the top. For Eberheart, a Grovetown resident, the payoff came in December.
The certified athletic trainer, physician's assistant and massage therapist worked the "Duel in the Pool," a swim meet pitting the top U.S. swimmers against their counterparts from Europe. The event was held in December in Manchester, England. Eberheart worked with the likes of Phelps, who won eight gold medals in the 2008 Olympics.
"To get onto (the) medical team of these prestigious events, it's competitive, just like it is to get in (the events) themselves," said Doctors Hospital spokesperson Anne Cordeiro, "Andy has worked his way up."
Eberheart, who swam competitively at College of Charleston in the mid-1990s, focused his career on the sport after working with the Aiken-Augusta Swim League.
"I used to cover football, and I mean, I like football," Eberheart said. "But the thing I like the best is swimming."
Eberheart joined the USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Network. He was later nominated to join the organization's "high performance" network. Members from that group are chosen to work the more prestigious swimming events, including the Olympics.
In 2005, he served a two-week volunteer stint at the Olympic training facility in Colorado Springs, Colo. A year later, he worked an internship at a domestic meet held in Missouri. There he worked with the U.S. national team and coaches and was evaluated for placement in the high performance network.
The event in Manchester was the first international event Eberheart has worked.
"It's a great honor for me to work up to that point and be able to go on these trips," he said.
In Manchester, Eberheart primarily served as a massage therapist. A team room in the hotel was set up with tables where swimmers would come for massages before and after races.
Eberheart and other members of the staff evaluated swimmers and treated them for soreness and tightness and in some cases conducted strengthening exercises. Eberheart said most required only rubdowns.
The event was a breakthrough for Eberheart. He already has been chosen to work the Pan Pacific Championships, an international event that will be held in Irvine Calif., in August.
From a career standpoint, Eberheart figures he has met most of his goals to this point.
"Being in a high performance network, I'm in kind of the top tier," he said. "It would be neat to be selected for the Olympics, or something like that in the future."
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