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Billings swimmer chosen to compete for Team USA in the World Deaf Swimming Championships



Billings, Montana – In the recent decade, the Billings Aquatic Club has produced some outstanding swimmers who have gone on to compete in Olympic trials and for prominent Division I programs.

Add another achievement to the group’s resume, as one of the ‘Stingrays’ will represent his club, state, and country on a global platform.

“The light goes off, the sound goes off, and that means it’s go time.”

A perfect way to start a swim competition, but things don’t always go as planned for Syler Pizzolato.

“The things that he has to deal with are completely different than any other swimmer has to deal with. There’s been a couple meets where it’s honestly not the officials’ fault, but there’s been a couple meets where he gets left on the blocks,” said BAC head swim coach, Sean Marshall.

Pizzolato is a Billings Senior sophomore and a competitive swimmer for BAC. He was born with significant hearing loss in both ears and wears earplugs to protect his ears while swimming, which poses some difficulties.

“Sometimes what’s funny is sometimes the noise is too loud or it’s too quiet for the starting noise and I don’t hear it sometimes and I just got to rely on the light,” Pizzolato said.

The light in question is a strobe light. Marshall and Pizzolato will occasionally start under the blocks to ensure a successful start. That’s just one example of how Pizzolato has quickly adapted to become a top young swimmer. Pizzolato recently earned the USA Swimming Futures Cut, putting him in the top 1% of swimmers in the state in his age group.

Pizzolato will get to test how his swimming pace compares to the best in the world this summer when he competes in the sixth World Deaf Championships in Argentina from August 13 to 19.

“30 countries, 300 swimmers plus and there’s kids going Olympic trials cuts in this meet and going at the Olympic trial level and swimming at that high level of swimming and the top eight of this meet. So, it’s a really high-level meet at the top end and it’s a great opportunity for him to see where he is,” Marshall said.

Pizzolato had to have a hearing loss of at least 55DB in the better ear in order to qualify for the USA Team, and his was 82DB loss combined with Team USA time standard cuts.

Marshall stated that it is something the family has been striving for over the past few years as Pizzolato has grown into an excellent swimmer. However, Pizzolato believes his mother may have signed him up without informing him that he would be leaving the country.

I don’t even know if she asked for my permission, she just kind of put me in it and I said ‘Okay I guess I’m going,’ and I didn’t know how big of a deal that was to leave the country and do a sport that I do for a living for Team USA,” he said.

Pizzolato will be swimming in lanes with other deaf swimmers for the first time in his life, which he expects will take some getting used to.

“You’re going to another country there’s completely different people but you’re also going to a different event with completely different people. I also need to learn some sign language because that’s not my main form of communication I use English most the time but I have to learn new signs and get used to being with those type of people.”

Pizzolato may need to brush up on his Spanish before traveling to South America for the famous event in August.

Pizzolato has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for his journey to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

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