Northeast High swimmer Megan Romano felt her body begin to break down. After days of wondering why her legs were so weary, she finally got the answer Monday when a blood test confirmed she had mononucleosis.
This was the last thing the senior-to-be wanted to hear with the Olympic trials less than three weeks away. Romano qualified for seven events and planned to swim in six of them.
"This is a major obstacle," said St. Petersburg Aquatics coach Fred Lewis, who trains Romano.
Nevertheless, Romano maintains she will stick with her training and compete.
"It's something I definitely want to try," Romano, 17, said. "I just have to make sure not to push anything too hard."
Romano said she had a sore throat last week but still swam at a meet in Charlotte, N.C., where she set a personal best in the 200-meter freestyle.
She began to feel tired and skipped the rest of her events. When she returned home, her parents took her to the hospital for a blood test, which showed mononucleosis.
The length and duration of mono fatigue varies from person to person, Dr. David Bernhardt said at a meeting on pediatric and adolescent sports medicine sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Some adolescents are lightly affected and feel they can return to play after 4-5 days of illness; others are still fatigued 8-10 weeks later and should not return to sports until they've regained their energy, Bernhardt said.
An enlarged spleen — splenomegaly — and the risk of splenic rupture are other issues affecting young athletes' return to sports.
Romano has just more than two weeks to train before the trials, which start June 29 in Omaha, Neb.
Lewis said he will scale back workouts from four hours to 40 minutes.
"We're not going to let her go all-out," Lewis said. "It's a hard break, but she still thinks she can give it a shot."