By: Andrew Mees, Director of College and Athletics Communications firstname.lastname@example.org
For Bloomfield faculty member Dr. Paul Lewandowski, a lifetime spent in the water turned into an unforgettable opportunity to see his favorite sport played at its highest level - halfway around the world.
An adjunct professor in anatomy and physiology, Lewandowski spent the early part of summer on an amazing journey abroad, serving as the team chiropractor this May for the United States Men’s Water Polo team on their trip to Shanghai, China for the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation or International Swimming Federation) World League Prelims.
The team made the voyage even more special with their play, winning the international competition that serves as a precursor to the World League Super Final, which was held in Dubai June 16-21. The victory was the program’s first in international competition in nearly 10 years, giving Lewandowski a front-row seat to one of the most significant triumphs in its history.
“To be accepted by the athletes and feel like I truly had something to contribute to help them win a championship was an incredible feeling,” said Lewandowski. “After playing the sport for most of my life, to be able to sit on the bench next to those elite athletes and watch them perform was really a dream come true.”
The 10-day journey served as the culmination of 40 years in aquatic sports for Dr. Lewandowski, who owns a private practice in Boonton, N.J. in addition to his teaching duties at Bloomfield. Recruited to swim for the New York Athletic Club at age 16, he also played water polo for the organization; eventually reaching the college level and competing in both sports at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, N.Y. He eventually returned to the NYAC to teach both sports in Saturday sessions for children ages 8-16, a position he still holds.
It was there that he met U.S. Water Polo’s chief physician, Dr. Naresh Rao, and was approached about a temporary role with the team for their trip to Shanghai. His professional knowledge and acumen for the sport made him the perfect candidate for the job, allowing he and his family to see a historic city and its various landmark locations – including The Bund, its signature waterfront area – while helping the team capture a tournament victory.
"While we didn’t have very much time to explore, it was great to experience a different culture while we were there,” he said. “It was great to see all the special places within the city on our last day there; it was really a great ending to a wonderful trip.”
Owning his own practice for 29 years, Lewandowski has earned a New Jersey Top Doc Award in both 2013 and 2014, and is a member of the Phi Chi Omega International Chiropractic Honor Society. Providing chiropractic care and helping to guide students for nearly three decades, he hopes his current pupils will take an important lesson from his summer experience.
“I hope that my experiences with the team will help show my students at Bloomfield that your body is a delicate balance,” he said when asked of his trip’s potential impact on Bloomfield’s undergrads. “Early intervention is the best practice to achieve that balance. The young men I had the opportunity to work with are some of the best athletes in the world, and they utilized my care when even the slightest thing felt wrong. I hope by sharing my experience, they will take that lesson to heart.”