By Griffin O’Hara
SOFIA, Bulgaria – Swimmer Matthew Klotz broke yet another deaf world record – twice – en route to a gold medal in the 200m backstroke Friday at Spartak Swimming Arena.
In his preliminary heat earlier in the day, Klotz outpaced the field and hit the wall in 2:07.65, breaking the 2:08.54 mark set in 2005 by Gregory Lessing of New Zealand.
A few hours later, facing stiff competition from rival Japanese swimmers Yoshikazu Kanaji and Ryutaro Ibara, Klotz broke his own record with a time of 2:07.43.
It wasn’t the first time he’d pulled off that feat this Deaflympics. Earlier in the week, he set a 100m backstroke record and then broke it twice in 24 hours to win his first gold.
“I was really proud of representing [the] USA and winning gold,” Klotz said Friday.
Klotz goes home with three medals, including a bronze in the 400m individual medley, in his first Deaflympics. But he plans to be back for more in four years.
I’ll “go out for more medals, and I’m looking forward to more” events to diversify those medals, he said.
Also in Friday’s finals, Peggy Liang came in fourth in the 50m freestyle.
Liang started strong and stayed in front but faded in the last five meters, which cost her a medal. She finished in 27.42, while Belarus’ Aksana Petrushenka won with a time of 27.09.
Alixandria Gavin, one of the youngest members of the team, qualified for the 200m breaststroke final and finished in eighth in 2:55.71. Petrushenka came in first in 2:36.33.
The women’s 4x100m freestyle relay team came in sixth with an unofficial time of 4:14.85.
“I’m happy that we improved by five seconds from this morning,” Liang said.
Coach Marcus Titus said he was happy with the team’s performance throughout the Games.
“The team did great overall, and I am proud of every single one of them,” Titus said. “They have also learned a lot from this meet, and there is always room for improvements and to get better for next time.”
The swimmers “are eager and looking forward to improve and hone their skills for [the] next time they have a competition,” Titus said.
Klotz is among those swimmers looking to improve, particularly in his shorter sprint events.
“I’ve been training really hard for the freestyle, but it wasn’t that great,” he said. “It’s the sprint events that I want to improve on … I’m more endurance-based.”