Deaf Person of the Month
A native of Tucson, Arizona, Marcus Titus was born deaf. His parents, Mieko and Mark, didn't realize that he was deaf until he was 3 years old. He attended ASDB and Flowing Wells High School. Urged by his parents, he began swimming competitively when he was 12, and became a champion swimmer, earning four varsity letters and being named a High School All-American as a senior. Participating in the 4x100 medley relay team, he helped Flowing Wells take first place at the National Championships; his split time was 1:04.14, and took first place in the 100-meter brushstroke (1:05:14).
At University of Arizona, he majored in Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. He competed with U. Arizona’s powerhouse team, under the guidance of Frank Busch. As a sophomore, he took second place in two events at the NCAA championships.
A few concessions had to be made, of course, since he can’t hear the buzzer that traditionally signals the start of the race. He lobbied for having strobe lights installed under all of the starting blocks, and, since he has to see someone on deck who knows ASL, the inclusion of hand signals. He successfully campaigned to have the latter officially accepted by USA Swimming Hand signals were finally accepted in 2012.
As for being Deaf, he considers it an advantage, being able to focus solely on the race without hearing, and being distracted by, noises, especially the crowds.
He set World Deaf Swimming Championship records in 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, 50-meter breaststroke, and 100-meter breaststroke. At the ConocoPhillips Nokayational Championships, 100-meter breaststroke, he placed third in 2009, fourth in 2010, and third in 2011.
He made eighth place in the 2012 Olympic trials (100-meter brushstroke), after which he took a break from competition.
He coached the 2013 Deaflympic team, which set several records, which, he says, helped him analyze and improve techniques. He realized that he missed the joy of competition, and got back into practice. At the 2016 Olympic trials held in Omaha in late June, he placed sixth, only 8/10th of a second away from winning a spot on the U.S. Olympic team (only 1.2 seconds behind the top scorer). But now he has his sights set on the 2017 Deaflympics in Samsun, Turkey.
His future ambition is to coach swimmers . . . and they will likely turn out to be champions.