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June 10, 2007

Ohio teen chosen for Team USA to swim at World Deaf Swimming Championships

From: US Deaf Swimming - Jun 10, 2007

Ohio Teen to Swim at World Deaf Swimming Championships

Gallaudet University freshman Kristoffer Lauderbaugh, was recently selected to the United States National Deaf Team to compete at the World Deaf Swimming Championships. Lauderbaugh is one of 12 swimmers aged 14 to 24 who will spend the summer training for six days of competition in Taipei, Taiwan, August 11-18, 2007.

The United States national deaf team represents different geographical areas as well as different communication modes, and different hearing technology. Some of the athletes use American Sign Language, some speak; some prefer not to use hearing aids and some have cochlear implants. All are deaf in the water. They truly reflect the diversity and range amongst the deaf population, but all are dedicated athletes and hard working students.

Lauderbaugh had a rough start to life. At six months of age Kris contracted bacterial meningitis. He almost lost his life. Lauderbaugh lost his hearing and was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsey. He was projected to never walk, sit up, or be able to take care of himself. He was determined to prove them all wrong. Kris pulled himself up, tore apart furniture to make himself a walker and strengthen his legs. He wanted to swim from an early age and was a fish in the water. He didn’t walk until he was four, couldn’t jump until he was six, and couldn’t run until he was eight. Nothing ever held him back. He was determined to be active and whole.

Lauderbaugh has been swimming competitively since he was ten years old. A member of the Gallaudet Aqua Bison, Kris is coached by Bill Snape, who was selected by a committee as the Coach for the United States World Deaf Swimming Team. Kris is a member of USA swimming, USA Deaf Sports Federation, and United States Deaf Swimming. Lauderbaugh has received numerous swimming trophies throughout his competitive career. Most recently he received the "Best Freshman" award at Gallaudet University for beating 4 of their team relay records (one of them twice!). Lauderbaugh was a member of the Riverside High School varsity swim team his Junior and Senior year under Coach’s Franz, Franz, and Snyder. Kris also served as a member of the Eastlake Vikings summer swim league under Coach Greg Tompkins (2005-2006) as well as a member of Wickliffe Water Devils under Coach Becky Rowell (2000-2004).

As much as he loves swimming, Kris believes that his academic preparation must come first. Through focus and training Lauderbaugh is learning to juggle the demands of college classes with his training. Kris is a Optimist Local essay winner (2006). Along with essay writing, he enjoys playing billiards, bowling, cycling, and baseball.

So what keeps this young man going? Lauderbaugh attributes his time management and abilities to his faith in God. Kris is an active member of Willo-Hill Baptist Church, and their deaf program. The past two summers he has spent in Mexico doing construction work for Tecate Christian Mission. Lauderbaugh believes that God’s gifts are for His glory and he thanks Him for the opportunity to train and meet others through swimming.
World Deaf Swimming Championships will be a new step for this 19 year old freestylist from Concord Township, Ohio. Not a long way from the talent and abilities of other young US swimmers, like Michael Phelps, Kristoffer Lauderbaugh hopes that the opportunity to compete at international competition will provide a push to the next level for him-- maybe even to the Deaflympics in 2009!

The World Deaf Swimming Championships will allow deaf athletes an opportunity to compete with none of the communication barriers that may exist when they compete with athletes who can hear. Some minor adaptations are made, such as substituting auditory cues with visual ones, but otherwise there are no "special" rules. Many Deaf people consider themselves to have a unique culture. This Championship provides athletic competition and a chance to celebrate that culture all within an international context.

The United States Deaf Swimming, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organizaton, has been appointed by the United States Deaf Sports Federation to identify deaf swimmers, select a national team, and provide the support necessary for success in international events starting with the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Taipei. FINA, International Deaf Sports Committee, and the US Olympic Commission sanction the World Deaf Swimming Championships, however no funding is provided to the team by these organizations. Each athlete is obliged to raise the necessary $6,300 to pay for his or her expenses. Kris will need sponsorship in order to attend the World Deaf Swimming Championships. Please help! For more information on how to help visit United States Deaf Swimming
You can download a sponsorship form from their website. Please mail any sponsorship to:
US Deaf Swimming
ATTN: Stephanie Danner
PO Box 20275
Rochester, NY, 14602