The swimmer tore a muscle in her left shoulder at the beginning of the season, and though she managed to swim the county and state meets, it ended up being a nagging injury that never went away.
In the end, Friedman admitted that she may have tried to come back too soon.
After the state meet, she stayed away from the pool for three weeks to rest her shoulder and concentrate on physical therapy and focus.
It turned out to be an inspired choice.
Friedman was pain-free and back in the pool by late April, when the long-course season began.
“Yeah, I was injured and stayed with me for a while and not it’s totally fine,” she said. “I’m ready to have a good season. I’m feeling good in the water now.”
In fact, Friedman is coming off one of her better meets and experiences of her swimming career, and with no lingering effects. She recently returned from Israel, where she competed for the United States at the Maccabiah Games, an Olympic-style event held for Jewish athletes every four years.
Friedman effectively swam the butterfly leg — a stroke that requires the use of shoulder muscles — en route to helping the U.S. 400-yard medley relay team win a silver medal. She also made the finals of the 200 freestyle, 800 freestyle and 400 individual medley.
During her time in Jerusalem, Friedman got to interact and team with Garrett Weber-Gale, a two-time gold medalist from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
“I was definitely one of the most incredible experiences of my life,” Friedman said. “And getting to be in Israel and touring around was amazing. I was with my mom and my sister when I got the email saying I made the team. I didn’t think it was real and was really excited.”
Said Walton coach Mary Howell-Hafner, an assistant last year under previous head coach Sharon Loughran, “Based on this meet (Friedman) just did, she seems to be back on her game and doing better than ever.”
That didn’t seem to be the case last November.
It was just a routine practice with her Marietta Marlins club team when Friedman heard something rip. The immediate pain that followed was too sharp for her to continue on.
Friedman was back in the water less than two weeks later, with the intent of not training too hard.
If she had to do it all over again, she probably would have waited.
“It was difficult doing anything, not just swimming, but in every-day life,” Friedman said. “I couldn’t really move, and it took a lot out of my practice.”
Despite the irritating pain — the rising senior distance freestylist said she had to do more kicking than arm motion while racing to relieve it — she still put up respectable results when it really counted.
At the Cobb County Championships, Friedman was fourth in the 500 freestyle (5 minutes, 20.64 seconds) and fifth in the 200 freestyle (1:57.29) to help Walton win the meet and derail Lassiter’s dominance of claiming 13 of the previous 14 championships.
When Friedman’s shoulder really started acting up, she overcame the pain and helped Walton place eighth in the Class AAAAAA state meet. She made the finals of the 500 freestyle, placing 11th in 5:08.07, and was the second alternate in the 200 freestyle. She also helped the 400 freestyle team take 12th in 3:41.25.