The Deaflympics Closing Ceremonies marked the end of the 23rd Summer Deaflympics on July 30th in Samsun, Turkey, and Team USA Swimming is already back home in the USA reflecting on the great experience of the games. Gold, Silver, and Bronze, that’s what the Team USA Swimming brought back from the 2017 Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey. Eight athletes attended the games as part of Team USA and earned best times, new American Records, Deaflympic Records, World Records, and medals for USA.
Left to right: Alyssa Greymont, Emily Massengale, Elizabeth Cocker, Molly Likins, Matthew Zou, Matthew Hopkins, Matthew Klotz, and Tyler Brown
The top medal winner for Team USA was Matthew Klotz of Cameron Park, California. Klotz earned three gold medals in the Men’s 50 Backstroke (New World Record time of 26.26), Men’s 100 Backstroke (New Deaflympics Record of 56.09), and gold in the Men’s 200 Back with a new Deaf World Record time of 2:01.96. He also earned two silver medals in the games in the Men’s 50 Fly (25.65) and Men’s 50 Free (23.54).
Left to right: Kanaji Yoshikazu (Japan, Silver), Matthew Klotz (USA, Gold), Juliusz Sawka (Poland, Bronze)
In addition to his success in the pool, Klotz served as a team captain for Team USA and as mentor for the other athletes on the team. This was a valuable contribution for every athlete attending the Deaflympics. As the only team member returning to a second Deaflympic games, Klotz shared his insight and experience with his teammates on everything from eating right before the competition to keeping your mind focused on the race during warm ups. As the last night of competition came to a close, the respect of his teammates and even other countries was evidenced in the line of athletes and coaches coming to shake his hand, trade team gear, or just wish him well. Even in that, he was setting an example of gracious sportsmanship until the end.
New Deaflympian, Emily Massengale, age 16 years old, also had a successful first Deaflympic Games as well. Qualifying for finals in 8 of 9 individual events, Massengale earned two bronze medals in the 400 Individual Medley (5:13.66) and the 200 Backstroke (2:27.06). She also broke the 36-year-old Deaf American Record in the 50 Backstroke set in 1981 and the Deaf American Record in the 100 Back that was set in 2011. Massengale also swam in the Mixed Medley Relay, Women’s Medley Relay, and Women’s 4×200 Free Relay. Although this was Emily’s first Deaflympics competition, she was a member of Team USA at the the Deaf Swimming World Championships in 2015 in San Antonio, Texas, at just 14 years of age. One of her favorite highlights about the Deaflympics was getting to return to competition with her teammates from the World Deaf Championships and also reunite with competitors from other countries that she had met there.
Emily Massengale earned the Bronze Medal in the women’s 400 individual medley with a time drop of over 17 seconds from her personal best time. She also earned bronze in the 200 backstroke.
Alyssa Greymont, a first time Deaflympian, from Morgan Hill, California, earned her first Deaflympic Bronze medal in the Women’s 400 Freestyle with a time of 4:40.18, a drop of over 1 second off of her preliminary time of 4:41.37. She also placed 7th in the 200 Freestyle, 11th in the 200 Backstroke, and 12th in the 400 Individual Medley. Alyssa swam in the Women’s Medley Relay and Women’s 4×200 Relay.
Alyssa Greymont winning the Bronze Medal in the women’s 400 freestyle event.
Elizabeth Cocker, a butterflyer and freestyler from Rancho Cordova, California, brought her past experience at the World Deaf Swimming Championships and college level to the meet. Elizabeth has made great strides in her swimming and also her speech and use of cochlear implants. She inspires others by sharing that journey to encourage other hearing impaired youth to reach for their dreams. She recorded video logs for her social media followers during the event. She was also a mentor to the younger team members. Elizabeth competed in the butterfly and freestyle events and the relays. Her top finish was 5th place in the women’s 200 butterfly (2:35.89), a new Personal Record time. She also earned 10th place in the 50 free and 100 butterfly and 13th Place in the women’s 50 Butterfly. Her relay splits were personal best times. She swam in the Mixed Medley Relay (new American Record), Women’s Medley Relay (new American Record), and Women’s 4×200 Free Relay in addition to the Mixed Freestyle Relay (new American Record).
Molly Likins was also a first time Deaflympian from St. Clair, Michigan, and a returning member of the World Deaf Swimming Championship team from 2015. A talented breaststroker, Likins held the American Deaf Records in the 50 Breast and 100 Breast events. She lowered those records at the Deaflympics with new times of 34.32 in the 50 Breast and 1:16.70 in the preliminaries of the 100 Breast. Molly was an instrumental contributor to the Mixed Medley Relay (new American Record) and the Women’s Medley Relay (new American Record) as well as the Women’s 4×200 relay.
Matthew Hopkins, a brand new member of USA Deaf Swimming and a new Deaflympian from Wayne, Pennsylvania, had a great first meet at the international level. His best finishes were a 9th place finish in the 100 back and a 10th place finish in the 50 back. He had numerous personal best times and was a strong relay contributor.
Tyler Brown, a 15-year-old from Fort Thomas, Kentucky, was also a first-time Deaflympian. He raced a range of events including the men’s 400 individual medley with a 13th place finish and men’s 200 breast with a 16th place finish. Brown swam events in all strokes at the meet and also contributed to the relays. He was an excellent ambassador for team USA in meeting and interacting with the teams from other countries. Brown was a returning member of Team USA who had competed at the 2015 World Deaf Swimming Championships.
Matthew Zou, a 15-year-old from Ellicott City, Maryland and first-time Deaflympian swam primarily backstroke and freestyle events in addition to relays. His highest level finish was 11th place in the men’s 200 butterfly and 13th place in the men’s 200 backstroke. He had several personal best times at the meet. Zou will be an important asset for Team USA in future competitions.
All of these athletes competed under the direction of Coach Tom Lebherz, a swim club coach out of Santa Clara Swim Club in Santa Clara, California. Coach Lebherz brought the young team together in Turkey, working with them on key aspects of starts, turns, underwater kicks, and racing strategy. He was a valuable asset in helping them race what they had trained back home in this high stress, intense environment.
USA Deaf Swimming celebrates the accomplishments of all of these athletes at the 2017 Deaflympics The next competitions will be the World Championships in 2018 and 2019. The location of the 2021 Deaflympics is still to be determined.
Men’s 50 Free, 23.54, Silver Medal
Men’s 50 Backstroke, 26.26, Gold Medal, **New World Record
Men’s 100 Back, 56.09, Gold Medal, **New Deaflympics Record
Men’s 200 Back, 2:01.96, Gold Medal, **New World Record
Men’s 50 Fly, 25.65, Silver Medal
Men’s 100 Free, 52.81, 4th in prelims
Men’s 400 Individual Medley, 4:48.20, 5th place in prelims
Women’s 400 Individual Medley, 5:13.66, Bronze Medal
Women’s 200 Back, 2:27.06, Bronze Medal
Women’s 200 Free, 2:14.57, 5th Place
Women’s 50 Back, 31.66, 5th Place, **New American Record
Women’s 100 Back, 1:07.16, 5th Place, **New American Record
Women’s 200 Individual Medley, 2:29.08, 5th Place
Women’s 50 Free, 28.34, 9th Place, Semifinals
Women’s 400 Free, 4:47.84, 6th place (Prelims) Q
Women’s 400 Free, 4:40.18, Bronze Medal
Women’s 200 Free, 2:16.12, 7th Place
Women’s 400 Individual Medley, 5:29.68, 12th Place
Women’s 200 Backstroke, 2:34.65, 11th Place
Women’s 50 Breast, 34.32, 5th Place, **New American Record
Women’s 100 Breast, 1:16.70, 3rd Place (Prelims)**New American Record
Women’s 100 Breast, 1:17.35, 8th Place (Finals)
Women’s 200 Breast, 2:52.14, 8th Place
Women’s 50 Butterfly, 31.68, 14th Place
Women’s 100 Butterfly, 1:13.22, 15th Place
Women’s 200 Individual Medley, 2:42.42, 15th Place
Women’s 200 Butterfly, 2:35.89, 5th Place
Women’s 50 Free, 28.54, 10th Place (Semifinals)
Women’s 200 Free, 2:17.89, 10th Place
Women’s 50 Butterfly, 31.65, 13th Place
Women’s 100 Butterfly, 1:09.47, 10th Place
Men’s 50 Free, 25.62, 18th Place
Men’s 100 Free, 55.46, 13th Place
Men’s 200 Free, 2:06.54, 15th Place
Men’s 400 Free, 4:29.87, 13th Place
Men’s 50 Backstroke, 29.02, 10th Place
Men’s 100 Backstroke, 1:05.25, 9th Place
Men’s 200 Backstroke, 2:25.56, 11th Place
Men’s 50 Breast, 34.89, 22nd Place
Men’s 50 Butterfly, 28.48, 29th Place
Men’s 100 Butterfly, 1:02.60, 18th Place
Men’s 200 Individual Medley, 2:25.55, 17th Place
Men’s 400 Individual Medley, 5:13.54, 11th Place
Men’s 50 Free, 27.45, 43rd Place
Men’s 100 Free, 1:00.08, 40th Place
Men’s 200 Free, 2:09.90, 21st Place
Men’s 50 Backstroke, 32.20, 26th Place
Men’s 100 Backstroke, 1:08.31, 17th Place
Men’s 200 Backstroke, 2:29.12, 13th Place
Men’s 200 Butterfly, 2:21.21, 11th Place
Men’s 100 Breast, 1:20.31, 23rd Place
Men’s 200 Breast, 2:50.92, 17th Place
Men’s 50 Free, 28.15, 46th Place
Men’s 100 Free, 1:00.99, 42nd Place
Men’s 400 Free, 4:47.37, 18th Place
Men’s 200 Butterfly, 2:29.23, 18th Place
Men’s 50 Breast, 35.52, 24th Place
Men’s 100 Breast, 1:17.36, 19th Place
Men’s 200 Breast, 2:48.02, 16th Place
Men’s 100 Backstroke, 1:11.98, 24th Place
Men’s 50 Butterfly, 29.16, 33rd Place
Men’s 100 Butterfly, 1:06.50, 22nd Place
Men’s 200 Individual Medley, 2:30.44, 23rd Place
Men’s 400 Individual Medley, 5:16.61, 13th Place
Team USA Relays
Mixed Medley Relay, 3:52.74, 5th Place (Klotz, Likins, Hopkins, Cocker)
Prelims: Hopkins, Likins, Zou, Cocker
**New American Record
Mixed Freestyle Relay, 3:52.74, 5th Place (Finals: Hopkins, Greymont, Cocker, Klotz)
Prelims: Zou, Cocker, Massengale, Klotz
**New American Record
Men’s 4×200 Free Relay, 8:27.52, 8th Place (Zou, Brown, Hopkins, Klotz)
Men’s 4×100 Medley Relay, 7th Place, 4:19.89 (Hopkins, Brown, Zou, Klotz)
Men’s 4×100 Free Relay, 3:41.20, 9th Place (Klotz, Brown, Zou, Hopkins)
Women’s Medley Relay, 4:35.37, 4th Place (Massengale, Likins, Cocker, Greymont)
**New American Record
Women’s 4×200 Free Relay, 9:19.66, 5th Place (Massengale, Likins, Cocker, Greymont)
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