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Alix Makes a Splash

Updated: Friday, February 21 2014, 01:55 PM CST

It's cold...especially for a Texan. It's early...especially for a teenager. But McNeil High School sophomore Alix Gavin does not need ideal conditions to perform.

"Excuses are really not part of her vocabulary," exclaims McNeil head swimming and diving coach Johnny Foss.

"She'll be the one that will be swimming 100 percent every time," said Kate Shomper, a junior on the McNeil swim team.

Alix does not want to hear your excuses. For the early part of her life, she couldn't hear anything.

"I wasn't turning my head at every loud noise so [my mother] wanted to get it checked out," Gavin explained. "She did, and I was 100 percent deaf."

Because her inner ear is not formed correctly, Gavin was born with severe and profound hearing loss.

"There's nothing I can do to change it," Alix admits.

When she was five, Alix received her first electronic implant. Her second came at the age of 10. With both implants on, Gavin still hears less than 40 percent of all sound. But the device is not waterproof.

So in the pool, Alix hears nothing.

But she sure makes a lot of noise.

After competing in the 2013 summer Deaflympics - last month, Gavin represented Team USA in the Deaf International Swimming Championships. At the event, Alix won six medals and was voted Youth Swimmer of the Meet.

"Deafness does not need to hold me back." Alix said. "I want to be an inspiration to all those other deaf people think they cannot do what they really like to do."

"She's just that example," admitted Coach Foss. "Whatever you have going on in your life: whine a little less, work a little harder. She's just a good example for the rest of us."

Even when it's not cold, or not early, training can me monotonous

"We swim all the time," explained Shomper. "Swimming is the same. You look at the bottom of the pool."

But even when the McNeil Mavericks are looking down in the water, they've got someone to look-up to in the next lane.

by Adam Winkler
Alix Makes a Splash


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