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Winnipeg swimmer makes personal best at Deaflympics

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Thomas Osborn brought back a few personal-best times from the Deaflympics.

The 17-year-old swimmer, who lost his hearing at the age of 10, said he was happy with his performance last month in Sofia, Bulgaria.

His finishes included an 11th overall in the 400-metre freestyle and 14th overall with a personal-best time in the 200-metre freestyle, all against athletes in their 20s.

He placed second in both those distances among racers aged 18 and under.

The host city of Sofia was filled with deaf athletes and supporters — about 10,000 in all — and the competition was crowded with swimmers from all over the world, Osborn said.

"It was easy for me to meet my old friends and make news ones."

Osborn, who swims in Winnipeg with the Manitoba Marlins, was one of six swimmers on Team Canada for the international multi-sport games, which is sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee. (Deaf athletes are not eligible for the Paralympics, so this is their Olympics.)

He said his next goal is to set a deaf world record at the 2017 games.

For now, Osborn will cherish his memories of the games in Sofia, including the birds that flew in through the open windows and nested in the roof above the pool.

"Luckily the birds didn't bother the swimmers, but it was interesting to see."

melissa.tait@freepress.mb.ca

— with files from Ashley Prest

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