Deaf Swimmer Competes for Olympic Spot

Marcus Titus joined the Olympic trials for a spot in Rio

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While watching the swimmers at the trials for the coveted Olympic spot, no one would have guessed that one of the hopefuls is deaf.

Marcus Titus is a 30 year old swimmer from Tucson, Arizona. He started swimming at 12 years old with the encouragement from his mother and then joined the school swim team. From there he started his swimming career.

He completed the Olympic trials in 2012 and finished 8th place; he tried again this year for Rio and finished in 6th place. The recent trial proved Titus to be better this time, however only the top two places could go to the Olympics.

At the trials and competitions, Titus relies on strobe lights and hand signals. There are three stages: step up to the board, set, and go. Swimmers need to be aware of those steps and with the correct timing for equal starts. The hearing swimmers can hear the announcers while Titus relies on hand signals for the steps. He had to fight for accommodation at the trials in 2012, appealing to remove the ban on hand signals.

Titus posted on Facebook about the ban, asked for the community to write to the USA Swimming organization to complain. After investigation, USA Swimming allowed hand signals for deaf swimmers only. The original reason for the ban was to comply with the international swimming rules. At the 2016 trials, Titus used hand signals and a strobe light for the start alert and finished in 6th place.

Titus currently holds the deaf world record times in the 50 meter breast stroke, 50 and 100 meter freestyle, making him one of the best deaf swimmers in the world.

We are very hopeful that he will try again for 2020!

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