Edmond North swim coaches claim junior Trysta Duerson has one of the best starts in the state.
It’s not uncommon for coaches to promote their athletes’ abilities and accomplishments. But what makes these coaches’ claims noteworthy is the fact that Duerson is deaf.
“Trysta has a heart of gold, first of all,” said Heather Devoe, head swimming coach for each of the three Edmond high schools. “I’m always amazed by her because she’s always adapting even when we don’t know she’s adapting. She’s consistent. She’s super team-oriented. She’s a top-notch kid.”
Duerson predominantly competes in the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke for the Huskies, two sprints where a good start is critical and a tenth of a second can be the difference between winning and not even placing.
“My favorite race is the 100 fly,” said Duerson, who is also a member of the Bison Aquatic Swim Club. “I’ve always been pretty good at it.”
“Trysta has trained all the coaches and all the officials on the hand signals that they use to start,” said Edmond North site coach Lauren Reddout. “There are lights on the starting blocks that blink when the timer goes off as well and she knows to go.”
“It took about six months to really figure out the type of start that would work well for her,” claimed technique coach Mahlik Davis. “Whenever they say ‘Take your mark’, she goes down and looks over at the official. Everyone else is looking down in perfect position but she is looking sideways, so whenever she takes off, she not only has to lift up her head but she has to turn her head in the right position, which is extremely difficult. I’ve tried it and it’s hard to do. It used to slow her down but she’s been doing it for so long, she really flies off that block.”
Last year, Duerson was one of 16 athletes, and the only one from Oklahoma, chosen to represent the United States and compete at the World Deaf Swimming Championships in Brazil. More than 30 countries were represented and it provided her an incredible life experience.
“It was different at first, but I got used to it quickly,” admitted Duerson. “I got to become friends with people from other countries.”
“It’s pretty amazing the way she’s been able to adjust and learn,” added Trysta’s mother, Terrie Jones. “In the water she’s completely deaf because she has to take her listening devices off. I’m so glad she’s brave enough to go after it and compete.”
Duerson is seeded third in the 100 backstroke and eighth in the 100 butterfly entering the OSSAA regional competition. Regionals will take place February 7-8 in Jenks and Edmond. The state championship swim meet is Feb. 21-22 in Jenks.
“Our goal is for the team to get first,” said Duerson, “but we’re hoping to at least finish in the top three.”
Other Huskie swimmers to watch out for in the final two meets include Lily Rector in the 100 free and 100 backstroke, Danielle Horst in the 50 free, Emma Reynolds in the 100 breaststroke and freshman Allie Lewis in the 100 free and 200 intermediate. Junior Reese Lugafet in the 50 free and 100 free and freshman Liberty Long in the 100 fly and 500 free are also in the mix to score team points.