(Reprinted from February 2007 Plastic Surgery News)
Plastic Surgeon’s Family Well-Acquainted With The Benefits Of Pulling In One Direction
The way David Reath, MD, Knoxville, Tenn., describes the optimum competitive rowing team can also be a valuable life lesson: “It’s not about how hard you’re pulling,” he says. “If you’re not pulling together as a team, your efforts can be counterproductive – and slow the boat down.&
Dr. Reath re-entered the world of competitive rowing after a 35-year hiatus that began upon high school graduation. The motivation to hit the waters again was mainly due to the desire of his wife, Lisa, to find an activity that would provide a well-rounded – albeit low impact – physical activity.
“Lisa has always been physically fit, but running wasn’t working for her anymore and she was having a hard time finding something that suited her”, Dr. Reath says. That is, until she read a newspaper article about a physical therapist not far from Knoxville who taught sculling, a type of rowing in which each person has two oars. This is opposed to sweep rowing, whereby each rower in teams up to eight members uses one oar, with half of them on the port (left) side of the boat, and the other half on the starboard (right side).
It wasn’t long before she and Dr. Reath were beginning their new partnership as scull mates, he says. Dr and Mrs. Reath’s enthusiasm for the sport subsequently prompted their son, Phillip, 16 and daughter, Lindsey, 17 to begin training .Each rows in several regattas each fall and spring- Phillip generally in the four-person boat, or shell, and Lindsey in the eight-person shell. Phillip’s best finish was third place at the ‘Head of the Hooch’ competition on the Chattahoochee River in Georgia in 2006. Lindsey, a slim young lady, rows in a lightweight boat and must compete against heavyweight boats- but she holds her own, Dr. Reath says.
Dr. Reath’s proudest moment for the family came when the four of them – Dr. Reath and Lisa in the mixed (male and female) doubles sculling and Phillip and Lindsey each in their own eight shells crossed the finish line in a marathon in Natchitoches, La. “It was a true marathon”, he says. “The customary 26.2 miles. We finished first in our class. We also finished last in our class. But we finished – that was the main thing.”
Dr. Reath says that more than pulling in one direction, rowing and plastic surgery are most alike in their practitioners’ pursuit of perfection. “In rowing, you’re always looking to perfect your technique,” he says. “I do the same in plastic surgery. For instance, there are procedures that I’ve done many, many times, but I continually search for ways to do it better. I’m striving for perfection.”