The US Deaf Sports Federation, the organization responsible for governing deaf sports in the United States, has announced the swimming roster for the 22nd Summer DeafLympic Games that will be held from July 26th until August 4th in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The multi-sport event is held every four years, in the year after the summer Olympics, with the first edition coming in 1924.
The American roster will include 11 swimmers, but will be without the country’s most famous deaf swimmer, Marcus Titus, but will have plenty of other name swimmers. The team will be looking to perform better than in 2009 in Taiwan, where they mustered just two bronze medals. The Russians, South Africans, Ukrainians, and Belarusians have historically been the dominant teams – a very similar list to what we see in Paralympic swimming. The Americans have momentum – at the 2011 World Championships, they took the overall team trophy in what was considered to be a major upset.
That includes Edward and Kenneth Freeman, who swim for the Bluegrass Marlins Swim team in Lexington, Kentucky. Kenneth is a sophomore at the University of Kentucky (though he’s not on their swim team).
Edward is a 16-year old sprinter with long course bests from last summer of 26.97 in the 50 free and 59.70 in the 100 free. His brother has similar specialties, and goes 26.7 in the 50 meter free and 57.59 in the 100 meter free. Edward is a slightly better swimmer over yards course, and should have an opportunity to swim collegiately if he wants.
Scott Farrell is already on an NCAA roster, as he’ll be a senior next season at the Division III Rochester Institute of Technology. He adds even more speed to the team with a 25.5 in the long course 50 and 56.3 in the long course 100 freestyles.
His RIT teammate Scott Matchett, is primarily a backstroker, with a long course best of 1:03.41. Both Matchett and Farrell were on the 2011 Worlds team.
Rounding out the roster is Deaflypics veteran Jake Hammack, who was on that 2009 team. This will be the 5th Deaflympics for the 33-year old. He’s a versatile swimmer, but his primary function has been as a relay veteran, where he has four Deaflympics gold medals. He also has an individual silver (200 fly) and individual bronze (100 back) from Rome in 2001.
Rounding out the lineup will be Matthew Klotz, who swims for the famed Sierra Marlins Swim Team in California (producer of huge amounts of national-level talent). He might be the star of the men’s team, with 5 American Deaf Records. He’s a Winter Junior Nationals Qualifier, and with bests of 20.96 in the 50 yard free, 51.0 in the 100 yard back, and 1:49.4 in the 200 yard back as just a high school junior, he’s a name that has a long way to go still in the sport of swimming. In fact, he’s the Sierra Nevada LSC Record holder in the 200 yard backstroke for 15-16’s.
The women’s team will be headlined by Peggy Liang, a diminutive sophomore (only 5’3″) from the University of Hawaii. She was the 2011 World Deaf Swimming Championships gold medalist in the 100 free, the 50 fly, and the 800 free relay, and is one of the Americans’ top medal hopes. She’s a very impressive 27.44 in the 50 long course meters free and 59.57 in the 100.
Jazmin Hernandez, a high school senior from California.
Teenager Catherine Parker from the Boise YMCA was just 14 when she swam at Worlds, and will come back much more experienced after swimming 5 events in 2011.
Most of her long course bests came back in 2011, and she’ll be looking to get back on form in Bulgaria (she swam many best times in 2011).
Samantha Elam swims at Olivet Nazarene in Illinois, but when she swam at Pierce College in California, she was the Western Conference Athlete of the Year. Another veteran of the 2009 DeafLympics team, her summer is off to a good start having already been a lifetime best of 28.69 in the 50 meter free.
And last, but surely not least, is Alix Gavin from Austin, Texas and the Lone Star Aquatic Club. The 15-year old Gavin is perhaps the future of U.S. Deaf Swimming. She has limited long course experience, but as a freshman last year was 5th in the 200 yard free (2:04.85) and 3rd in the 500 yard free (5:25.94) at the Texas 5A District 16 Championships. In both cases, she was the highest-placing freshman. That’s a title that’s no small feat in Texas 5A swimming, especially in the Austin area.
The full roster is below.