Peggy Liang won 8 gold medals at the 2007 Deaf Pan Am Games and set 5 Deaf Pan Am records. She went on to win 6 medals at the 2011 World Deaf Swimming Championships, then another 2 medals at the 2009 and 2013 Summer Deaflympics.
My mom was worried that I’d be afraid of water, so she signed me up for YMCA swim lessons when I was 6 months old. I have loved playing in water ever since. I grew up watching my siblings swim for high school teams, I thought it was awesome. One day I was swimming with my dad for fun at a club pool. A club coach was watching me, and invited me to join the team next day. I was 9 years old, and I was beyond excited.
So many doors were opened when I was swimming with my club. I went on my first Deaf International meet when I was 14. I was able to attend college with a swimming scholarship. I competed for USADSF’s national swim team at four major world deaf competitions.
Raising the money for competitions was quite hard, but it was worth the effort. I appreciated the opportunity to meet deaf athletes from countries around the world. I brought home more than just medals, I met new people and made new friendships that will last a lifetime. The USADSF gives all athletes an opportunity to travel and meet other deaf people. Sports brings people together in many ways, all in good fun.
But every time I was invited to be on the national team, I was always hesitant about it because I wasn’t sure if I could go, due to money issues or time constraints. I had to ask many people for money, and I always felt so awkward when asking. After I won 8 gold medals at the 2007 Pan Am games, I found that companies were more willing to donate towards my trips. I also went to my university’s student council, and they donated a large sum. The biggest help came from my swim community, who held fundraiser events like swim meets and swim clinics, and all proceeds went towards my trips.
Participating in deaf competitions reminded me of how I’ve been really lucky to have great club coaches, university coaches and teammates who can communicate with me, share pointers and teach me how to adjust my strokes in order to better my game in the pool. Other girls on the USA Deaf Swimming teams have come up to me and asked for advice, like how to handle the race, or how to warm up for specific events. They’re great swimmers, and I think they would really benefit from having a deaf coach who is knowledgable with strokes, race plans, mental games, and all that physical stuff to help with preparing for the race. I wish we could all have the same privileges.