By Nate Engel
USADSF Staff Writer
USA’s Deaf Swimming teams are ready to dive into the water and make strides toward gold medals at the upcoming World Deaf Swimming Championships in Coimbra, Portugal from August 6-13, 2011. As all the swimmers make their turns off the wall underwater, coach William Snape is focused on the sidelines and always tracking his swimmers’ times with his trusty stopwatch.
“I am truly honored to be the United States Deaf Swimming National Team Head Coach,” Snape said when he was asked to resume his position as the United States Deaf Swimming (USDS) national team coach.
Snape has been coaching swimming for thirty years. He had just finished his seventh season at Gallaudet University, where he was recently named North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Coach of the Year for both the men’s and women’s teams. The Aqua Bison won the conference championship, a first for Gallaudet in decades. Snape also mentions that he was previously associate head coach at George Washington University, an age-group coach in New Jersey and Virginia and to this day, he continues to participate in masters’ competition.
“The national team has an interesting mix of old and young, experienced and new,” added Snape, when asked about the roster of the national swimming team. As the spotlight shifts from the Deaflympics to the World Championships, a lot of hopes are being put on the swimmers from the United States to represent well at the world championships.
Leading the way, undoubtedly, is NCAA All-American Marcus Titus, who is a graduate student at the University of Arizona and currently on the “Grand Prix National Swim Circuit.” Titus is a clear favorite to win in the breaststroke events at the Deaf Worlds in Portugal this summer and also has a chance to medal in many other individual and relay events.
On the women’s side, Tulane sophomore Kristin Ates is the swimmer to watch along with a talented crew of previous international finalists including Jess Weeden, Peggy Liang, Samantha Elam, Becca Meyers, as well as rising phenom Abby McAlpin from Texas.
For the men, swimmers such as Scott Farrell, Brian Bennett, Scott Matchett and the Edward & Kenneth Freeman brothers will hopefully give Titus some support, especially in the relay events.
“We have a good crop of excellent young men. They’re improving by the day. What we have here is swimmers who are already good, along with the potential for true greatness,” Snape added. Approximately twenty swimmers in total (ten male, ten female) hopes to make the trip to Portugal this summer for United States Deaf Swimming.
“The goal is to put America back in the top mix. We feel confident,” Snape stated.
The swimmers from the United States won’t be handed their medals just like that. There is sure to be intense competition as the teams to beat are mostly from Europe: Germany, Ukraine, Russia, along with the Chinese starting to emerge on the horizon.