When all of the other swimmers at the Olympic Trials in Omaha this June are attempting to paddle and kick fast enough to earn a spot in London, Marcus Titus will have more than just his performance in the pool to worry about. Titus is a deaf swimmer who has been working with USA Swimming for months in an attempt to come up with a method that will allow deaf and hearing impaired swimmers to have the same opportunities as their hearing counterparts. According to the Facebook page Titus recently created, he has had little success.
Titus has made it clear that he feels as though USA Swimming is discriminating against him, and he’s calling for others to assist him in taking action. FINA, the international governing body for swimming, currently allows a strobe light to be used to signal the start of a race for deaf and hearing impaired swimmers. According to USA Swimming program operations VP James Sheehan, USA Swimming currently follows FINA protocol and will do so at the Omaha qualifiers.
The problem is the strobe light isn’t enough. It lets deaf and hearing impaired swimmers know when the race begins, but there are no hand signals or indicators used to let the swimmers know to step up or take their marks. Other swimming organizations use hand signals to accommodate such individuals, but as of now USA Swimming does not.