Santana swims into Deaflympics
She can't hear the snap at the start of a race, but Waikanae's Santana Chapman is not one to trail behind in the pool.
The 14-year-old Kapiti College student is heading to the Deaflympics in Bulgaria next year, having qualified in the 50 metre and 100m freestyle.
Santana is profoundly deaf, but has an implant that allows her to hear in everyday life. She knows sign language, and can lip read to hold a conversation without her hearing aid.
But in the pool she can't use the aid, and relies on a light that signals the start of the race.
"She can't hear a thing without the device," her father Phil said. "But when she has it on she can hear and she speaks beautifully."
Santana started swimming competitively this year, and has made great progress.
She enjoys swimming, despite the early starts.
"I love it. I like competing. I get really tired from all the training, but I do really like training," she said.
"I train every day. Tuesday and Thursday I train in the morning with the rest of the club, and have a one-on-one lesson with my coach on Saturday morning."
Former Olympian Jon Winter is her coach at Raumati Swimming Club, and Santana said he had been instrumental in her rise throughout the year.
Dad Phil said Santana could find it difficult to pick things up at training, but copied what other swimmers were doing and did her best to lip-read Winter's instructions.
"That's why we get the one- on-one sessions, just so she is sure of what she is doing and it's more focused."
Santana is trying to raise funds to get to the Deaflympics, staging fundraisers over the coming months.
The 2013 Deaflympics will be held in October, when Santana will be 15. She is hoping to qualify for more events between now and the cut-off in June.
- Kapiti Observer