Not hearing the starting gun doesn’t keep F&M’s Becca Meyers on the sideline


Its championship time in college swimming and we already have a winner in the race for ‘Most Remarkable.’

Its Becca Meyers of Franklin & Marshall College.

In a sport where the difference between winning and losing is tenths of a second, the last thing a swimmer wants is a late start.

But a late start is also the beginning of Becca Meyers incredible story.

“I’ve always been — one of my teachers once put it as, ‘tenacious.’ I’ve always been tenacious,” said Meyers.

While Becca is tenacious, she is also profoundly deaf.

Without her cochlear implants — “She can’t hear the starting beep,” says her coach — she starts every race watching for the flash of strobe lights.

But most of the time her light doesn’t work, she says. “I’m always going off the girl next to me,” Meyers said. “And I’m always a half-second behind.”

It’s just another challenge for Becca, yet she doesn’t panic.

Instead she pushes herself and is one of the best distance swimmers in the country

“And, on top of that a superstar in Paralympic competitions, too,” said Ben Delia, the swimming coach at F&M.

“It shows you that Becca is someone who sees the world — or the glass — as half full.

If only seeing was that simple easy for Becca Meyers.

Becca was born with a rare genetic disorder called Usher syndrome. She’s been deaf all her life — and if that’s not enough — because of the syndrome, now she’s going blind.

“I can only see this much,” said Meyers, who compares her vision to looking through two straws.

Out-and-about? It’s better now with Birdie, her seeing-eye dog, whom she’s had for the past six months.

And under water? she’s still able to make out the markings on the pool which tell her when to make her turns. Her system has helped her set two

Paralympic world records.

Meyers, a junior from Timonium, Md., set two world records (400m free and 200IM) and earned six medals (four gold, two silver) at the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships, while also capturing a pair of medals (silver in 200m IM and bronze in 100m freestyle) at the 2012 London Paralympic Games.

She recently won the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:43.06 at the Centennial Conference Championships at Gettysburg (Pa.) College. The mark broke the pool record, meet record, and her own conference record by more than 10 seconds. It earned her a spot at the NCAA Championships last month, where she finished sixth, earning All-American honors. Her sixth-place finish was the best by a Diplomat since Kelly Landman took fourth in the 200-yard butterfly in 2007.

She also competed in the prelims of the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard freestyle, but was unable to reach the finals of either event.

She earned the 2015 ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete with a Disability.

“Winning is great and all that but it’s not the message she’s sending,” adds her mother.

Leave it to mom to provide all of us with one important swimming lesson. “She’s sending a message of hope.”

When Becca was born, Maria Meyers believed her daughter was put on this earth for a reason — but she never imagine Becca accomplishing all this.

Much like Becca’s swimming — its not how you start.

No, its not.

Above: Video courtesy WHP-TV

Jason Bristol

Jason Bristol is Sports Director at CBS-21 News: WHP-TV, a Sinclair Broadcasting station in Harrisburg, Pa.