Noah: Welcome to the USADSF Spotlight with Noah. I am Noah Valencia. Today we will interview a person who is the most decorated medal winner in USADSF history. This person won over 30 medals in his competitions! His name is Reed Gershwind. We look forward to interviewing him today!
Image: Reed Gershwind holding a water polo ball.
Noah: How many Deaflympics did you participate in?
Reed: Five. Back then it was called the World Games of the Deaf, now changed to Deaflympics, a better name. The first one that I participated in was when I was 15 years old, in high school, in two sports, swimming and waterpolo, in 1981, in Germany. The second one, was in 1985, when I was in college, in CSUN (California State University at Northridge) while in NCA.
Noah: That was in LA?
Reed, Yes, in LA, right in the neighborhood! Also involved in two sports: Swimming and Water Polo. Now, in 1989, I was done with college, my goal was to stay with one sport, Water Polo. The water polo teams downsized to few teams that the event had to be cancelled. Oh no! I must participate in the Deaflympics. I was not ready to let go of the Deaflympics so I searched for a pool to train heavily in swimming, so I made the team! It was so rewarding to train hard and make it. 1989 Summer Deaflympics was a special time because I was honored to be selected as the flag bearer for USADSF.
Noah: That was in New Zealand?
Reed: Yes, New Zealand. That was 1989.
Noah: Wow that was a great honor!
Image: Reed Gershwind as the USA Flag bearer during the Opening Ceremony in 1989 Summer Deaflympics in New Zealand.
Reed: That was the last group representing AAAD (American Athletic Association for the Deaf) that transitioned to USADSF. I was involved in that change. So that was in 1989, two important historical moments during that time. The 4th one, in 1993, was in Bulgaria. I went back to both swimming and water polo. The 5th one, my last one in 1997 was in Denmark where I participated in one sport, water polo.
Noah: That was nice! You are the record holder of a total of over 30 medals. How does that feel for you?
Reed: Yes, that was nice. Back then, I was not thinking about the number of medals. I had different goals. For example, my goal was to win a medal for each stroke, for example, in freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. I made it! Gold medal in individual events, in relay events, and in a team event, Gold medals in each. And being selected in the Hall of Fame, and winning different NCA Championships. I had different goals, but overall, that was nice, having a total of 30 medals. I did not really realize that until much later.
Noah: Yes, you did not realize that!
Image: Close up of Reed doing the butterfly stroke.
Noah: What was your secret to winning all these medals?
Reed: Practice, Practice. Paying attention; setting up goals. Really, it is the experience of the Deaflympics itself. I had a passion for Deaflympics, I wanted more and more experience, so I continued. I really enjoyed it. Fortunately I did not get burned out that I just kept on going and going. I did a lot of cross training with different sports to help me not to be so focused on the pool but to be involved in different sports. I just kept on going, every 4 years until I was done.
Noah: I am also curious to ask how you managed to balance your training
in two different sports, water polo and swimming?
Reed: Really, I grew up loving balls. I happened to be good in the water. One day, I happened to see a ball in the water. I really wanted that. That started in high school and I just picked it up since then. The first two Deaflympics, swimming took place in the days, water polo in the evenings so that worked well out for me. During 1993 and after, both schedules overlapped so that it was difficult for me that I had to cancel some individual swimming events, as well as with water polo events that had conflicts. That was tough for me, being a dual athlete. So from this point on, I could not do dual roles.
Noah: That was tough! What was your time management secret?
Reed: Practices for both sports were fine because both are in the water. The individual style required focus on oneself while the team focused more on offense, defensive, ball handling skills, strength; pushing forwarding and pushing backwards. Those two sports were different. I enjoyed both.
Noah: Cool! Such a great experience with two different water sports!
Image: Reed Gershwind shooting the ball during a water polo match.
Noah: What were your memorable experiences during your 5 Summer Deaflympics?
Reed: Whoa, that is a tough question! All were good experiences. I would think, my first one, I was so young, at 15 years old. I was so overwhelmed, with different languages, using gestures to communicate. Meeting top elite athletes that were as talented as I was. Additionally, during 1981, at my first Summer Deaflympics, Germany was a communist, DR as in East Germany and CPU, as in USSR as in Russia. That was a lot to absorb in, I learned a lot and that stayed in my mind. That experience gave me a travel bug! That I wanted to keep traveling and traveling. II enjoyed meeting and meeting new people, Deaf people that it was so easy to interact with one another. That experience got me hooked for the rest of my life.
Noah: That was a fun experience. A Great and wonderful experience! I am looking forward to attending the 2021 Summer Deaflympics in Brazil.
Noah: Wow, a total of 30 different medals and his experiences! I want to thank Reed Gershwind for his time to do an interview today with us.
Until Then, So Long..