FREDERICK, MD - News is making waves over in Frederick where coaches are signed into their swimmers and making sure everyone has a chance in the pool.
Six-year-old Nicholas Starks may look like many of kids on the Spring Ridge Sharks Swim Team.
Most of the swimmers hear splashing, but Nicholas hears only silence. He understands everything at practice, even though he's deaf.
"Learning sign language is really, really big in order to help these kids swim. It has to be something that we do pretty often," said Melissa Lapham, head coach of the team.
"It's a good feeling because they look so happy, and they're really exited. I think they appreciate what we do for them," said Melanie Boughn, a junior coach.
The Spring Ridge Sharks have seven deaf swimmers on their team. The coaches and the swimmers who do hear sign during practice.
"It's really taught all the kids to come together and communicate, whether they're deaf or hearing that they really have so much in common, and it's really bridged that gap for them not only as teammates but also as friends to carry over to play time at the pool," said Kym Starks, Nicholas' mom.
Nicholas didn't hit the water as a competitive swimmer until this summer. He's already won a race and knows what his favorite part of swimming is.
"He likes to see his friends, and he likes to win," Nicholas signed to his mom.
Nicholas won his heat in the 25 yard freestyle this summer. He is now working to master backstroke.
His mom and coaches says swimming has taught him about persistence and being a team player.
"I think it says a lot about the sport in general. I feel like swimmers, whether they are deaf, whether they are blind, whatever the case may be, that it's very doable. The sport is universal," Lapham said.
"Who knows where he'll go. He could be the next Michael Phelps," Kym Starks said.
Nicholas watched swimming at the Olympics this summer, and thanks to the coaches, the pint-size swimmer has the opportunity to become the best he can be, one stroke at a time.
Kym Starks says Nicholas asks every day to go to practice. He loves winning ribbons, especially in freestyle, his favorite stroke.