This Tuesday, Titus was informed that USA Swimming would not allow hand signals to accommodate Deaf and hearing impaired swimmers in the Olympic trials in Nebraska this summer. Titus has worked with USA Swimming to standardize a race start protocol that incorporates hand signals and strobe lights as a visual aid to assist Deaf and hearing impaired swimmers.

USA Swimming went against their own existing rules since FINA, swimming’s international governing body, does not have hand signals to indicate “ready” and “set” to support swimmers with hearing impairments.

After Titus wrote about the discrimination on his blog and started a FB page to rally supporters to contact USA Swimming in protest; the organization  reversed their decision, quickly acknowledging it was a bad call.

USA Swimming stated, “USA Swimming will use hand signals at the upcoming Olympic Trials in order to accommodate our deaf and hearing-impaired swimmers. We thank National Team member Marcus Titus for bringing this issue to our attention. USA Swimming embraces an inclusive culture and is pleased to be able to accommodate our athletes with hearing impairments by making this change. The ruling is in accordance with USA Swimming rules

[Article 105.3]. Meeting the needs of our athletes remains a top priority for our organization, and we are pleased to take this action.”

Marcus Titus posted the fastest time of 2012 for a U.S. swimmer in the 100 meter breaststroke in Indianapolis. He is in an excellent position to qualify for the Olympic team, let’s make sure he gets a fair start.

The post from Titus’ blog below has a detailed explanation of how you can get involved by writing to USA Swimming.


For those of you attending the trials or watching on TV, please request that they use hand signals for EVERY event. They will use signals for my event, but there is no guarantee it will be well practiced or accurate unless they are constantly using it for EVERY race. Please write in to USA swimming to request hand signals… If they use hand signals, then Deaf and hard of hearing audience members can also see and fully enjoy the race experience! Please feel free to use the template letter below!To whom it may concern at USA SwimmingHi, my name is_________. I am ___ years old a deaf swimmer, and I am also a paying member of USA Swimming. I am coming to Omaha to watch Olympic trials with my family. In order for the meet to be accessible to me and my family, I would like to request hand signals for all of the starts so that I can see the official saying to step up and to take your mark. This is a once in a lifetime trip to olympic trials for me. These accommodations come at no cost to you, and would make my experience as a swim fan at olympic trials that much better. I can’t wait to tell my local media that you responded to me saying “YES” that you will make trials accessible to me. Thank you for doing the right thing.
signed ______________
Fellow athletes! Please help me make hand signals part of a universal start at the trials. If the hand signals are used for EVERY heat in EVERY event, then there should be no mistakes since the refs will be very well practiced! Please send this letter to USA swimming requesting hand signals for your events!

Dear Coach Busch,

Hi, my name is (_____________). I will be competing in the (example: 50 freestyle) at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

I would like you to use hand signals for the start of my races because it is loud in the CenturyLink Center, and I am not sure I will be able to hear the starter commands through my swim cap and over the sound of the crowd. I don’t want to leave anything to chance. I will not be stepping up on to the blocks without hand signals. The start is a very important part of my race. Thank you for your cooperation.
Sincerely, ________________