Ladner swimmer off to Brazil for Pan Am Games for the deaf

A Ladner swimmer is heading to Sao Paulo, Brazil to represent Canada at the Pan-American Games for the deaf.

Joshua Baerg, a 16-yearold Grade 11 student at Delta secondary school, will be making his international debut, competing in the 100 and 200 breaststroke events. The Games feature 2500 athletes and officials representing 15 countries. There will 14 different sports taking place over the 13-day event which runs from June 12-24.

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Baerg was born deaf with profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. When he was four, he received a cochlear implant which allows him some hearing, although he still must rely on lip-reading. As he cannot wear the external portion of the cochlear implant in the water, he only receives instructions through lipreading or written instructions from his coach.

At able-bodied swim meets, he is unable to hear the whistle or the starter's gun so he must watch the swimmer next to him to know when he is must get up on the block. He relies on a strobe light at the side of the pool to start his race. This can be an disadvantage so Baerg is looking forward to competing against other deaf swimmers who will all be on the same playing field. The officials will use hand signals to notify swimmers to get up on the blocks and all swimmers will rely on the strobe light for the start.

Baerg is a member of the national team which is a division of the Winskill Dolphins Swim Club, coached by Ben Keast. He swims at the Winskill Aquatic Centre and the Ladner Outdoor Pool.

Baerg trains for 11 months of the year, six days a week. He has attended the able-bodied Canadian National Age Group Swim Championships in Montreal in 2011 and will travel to Calgary in July for the 2012 National Age Group Championships.

He is hoping to be able to attend the 2013 Deaf Olympics next summer.

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