ESSM Rising Star: Dr Jeroen Swart
Dr Jeroen Swart is one of a number of scientists at ESSM that have received prestigious awards and appointments in 2020. In January Dr Swart was awarded a FIMS Fellowship and elected to the FIMS Scientific Commission, while in February Dr Swart received the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Sisk Award.
The FIMS Fellowship was for "Career contribution to the field of Sports Medicine" while the Sisk Award was for "Best international paper 2019" - Study as part of MSc (Physio) dissertation by Grethe Geldenhuys.
The International Sports Medicine Federation Scientific Council is composed of a chair and six leading experts in the field of sport and exercise medicine from around the Globe. The current council members are:
Chair - Prof. Yannis Pitsiladis (GRE)
1. Prof. Mats Boerjesson (Sweden)
2. Prof. James Bilzon (United Kingdom)
3. Prof. Viktoriya Badtieva (Russia)
4. Dr. Jeroen Swart (South Africa)
5. Dr. Michiko Dohi (Japan)
6. Prof. Xie Minhao (China)
In January 2019 Dr Swart was appointed the Medical Director for UAE Team Emirates.
Dr Swart is charged with overseeing the health and wellbeing of the athletes in the team.
His primary role is to co-ordinate the medical team in the daily support of the 30member squad and the medical protocols governing the care and assessment of the athletes.
Included in his portfolio is the physiological monitoring of fatigue and training status using the techniques developed at ESSM in collaboration with Professor Robert Lamberts and Professor Mike Lambert with whom Dr Swart conducted over a dozen collaborative studies between 2003 and 2012.
Dr Swart also directs the biomechanics programme, the strength and conditioning programme and the nutritional programme within the team.
When joining the team in January 2019 it was ranked 15th in the UCI World rankings and by December 2019 the team had climbed to 3rd overall in the World rankings. It continues to improve and in the first months of 2020 was briefly ranked the number 1 team on season points.
When asked about what inspires and motivates him, Dr Swart said:
I am inspired by human performance endeavours as well as the beauty and passion of sport. My deep interest in understanding how all things work combines perfectly with the passion of sport and allows me to apply scientific understanding into practical real-world situations.
The disciplines of Sports & Exercise medicine and exercise science are not at all representative of the South African demographic. In the field of Sports Medicine gender inequality is also more prominent. In my experience, the number of applicants into postgraduate sports science research degrees and sports medicine are also heavily skewed towards white males. One limitation in these fields that I have actively chosen to change is that neither demonstrate a clear career pathways outside of the academic environment. This may reduce the attractiveness to potential applicants. By creating vehicles which provide practical training, mentorship and career opportunities we can ensure that there are available tracks to offer graduates on completion of their studies. The Cape Sports Medicine group was established in 2015 and offers aspiring sports physicians clinical experience and mentorship both during and after their postgraduate studies as well as both a dedicated career path and high profile career opportunities. Since the establishment of the group, all new associates that have joined the group have been from under represented demographic groups.
With respect to innovation and discovery we should actively change the mindset that South Africans cannot be thought leaders and pioneers when it comes to globally competitive research, practical sports science and clinical sports medicine. South Africans as a whole are survivors and in our daily lives we have had to learn to overcome adversity and challenges and to think of novel solutions, particularly when it comes to finding cost effective solutions to problems. As leaders in the field we need to instil both skills in critical thinking in our students and also show them that they have the capacity to think outside the box and create innovative solutions to both existing problems and to limitations that they can identify in existing paradigms and systems.