By Jeff Commings
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick
Courtesy of: Peter H. Bick
TUCSON, Arizona, November 15. LIKE every swimmer who puts away the suit and goggles, Marcus Titus has found the itch to compete again. After a year away from the pool, he is back with intentions to compete at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials.
Titus made a name for himself as one of the most successful American deaf swimmers in history. He was a multiple All-American in the breaststroke and medley relay events at the University of Arizona, placing as high as second in the 2008 NCAAs. He finished eighth in the 100 breaststroke at the 2012 Olympic Trials, eight tenths of a second away from a berth on the Olympic roster. Deaf since three, he relies on the use of hand signals or special lights at meets to race with those without hearing impairments.
Titus was content to step away from competing and became the head swim coach for Team USA at the 2013 Deaflympics. It was there that the desire to race for Rio returned.
"People (on the Deaflympic team) were asking me why I wasn't swimming," said Titus, 27. "They were like, 'You should be in the pool right now.' It made me hungry again. It made me want to find that spark again."
Titus is fully aware that much work needs to be done to approach his lifetime best of 1:00.00 from the 2009 nationals. (His lifetime best in a textile suit is 1:00.49 from the 2012 Trials.) Though his work as a personal trainer required him to stay physically fit, he could only get through 2,000 meters in his first workout last August, but has progressed steadily to a consistent 6,000 meters. He's training with the postgraduate team at the University of Arizona, looking to return to the Olympic Trials final and get his name on the Olympic roster. After that, the next big goal will be competing in the 2017 Deaflympics.
Much work also needs to be done to finance his life as a full-time swimmer. To that end, he's set up a website for donations to help pay for not only the normal necessities such as living expenses and travel to meets. It'll help pay for an interpreter that he needs on deck daily to translate what coaches are saying during workouts and as a travel companion to help him at meets. When he was swimming at the University of Arizona, all those expenses were handled by the school.
There's no maximum amount Titus is looking to collect, because any extra money will go directly to USA Deaf Swimming (USDS) to help other swimmers like Titus reach their goals.
Titus said the timing is perfect to get back into the pool, and he's looking forward to racing again to gauge his progress. He'll compete at the Ron Johnson Invitational next weekend, a short course meters Masters meet at Arizona State University, and the USDS nationals in January. He also plans to compete at next summer's USA Swimming nationals, there's no expectation of being back on his game by then. By 2015, however, he expects to be challenging the top breaststrokers in the country.
"I can be back where I was," he said. "I can be better."
To learn more about donating to Titus' cause, go to his website at Razoo.com.