PHOENIX, Arizona, April 24. JAZMIN Hernandez is training to be the best deaf swimmer in the world. The 15-year-old South Los Angeles native has set out to represent the United States at the 2013 Deaflympics this July-August in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Filmmakers Amanda Salem and Stephen Fell are following her journey in their documentary titled “Swimmer's Ear.”
“[The film] profiles swimmers and their training but also touches on an international competition that isn't usually highlighted,” Salem told Swimming World via e-mail. “We began this film when we met a particular young lady, deaf swimmer Jazmin Hernandez, who told us her dream was to win a medal at the Deaflympics. We were floored because she was so incredibly motivated, despite any obstacles that stood in her way. Yet, none of our friends and colleagues had heard of the games. Special Olympics and Paralympics, of course. But, the Deaflympics seemed to be so unknown in the hearing world. Through this film, we want to show how important these games are for the deaf community and how our U.S. team goes virtually unnoticed because of lack of funding and awareness.”
Salem and Fell started a Kickstarter Page to raise funds for filming Hernandez competing at the Games in Bulgaria. They need at least $8,000 by May 12, 2013. The money raised will be used to fly to Bulgaria for the games, to pay media entry fees and to rent equipment. To date, the site has already raised nearly $5,500.
About the film from the Swimmer's Ear Kickstarter page: Swimmer's Ear is a captivating documentary that follows Jazmin Hernandez, a 15-year-old deaf athlete on her journey to break through the stereotypes of growing up in South Los Angeles — as well as those associated with the deaf community — by going for the gold at the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The Deaflympics is a separate set of international games exclusively for the deaf, which actually predates the Paralympics by over 20 years.
About 80 countries participate in the Deaflympics in 20 different sports. This July, over 3,000 deaf athletes are expected to descend upon Sofia, Bulgaria, for the 2013 games
Shortly after we began filming, we found that there's even more to this story. While there are U.S. funds set aside for Paralympians and Special Olympians, every Deaflympian must pay his or her own way to the games. According to United States Deaf Swimming officials, the U.S. is one of about three countries that don't provide funds for their deaf athletes.
Be sure to visit the Swimmer's Ear Facebook Fan Page.