NCAA's first blind swim coach makes waves at Catawba College

- You’d be hard pressed to find a more passionate swim coach than Tharon Drake. 

In just six months as an assistant swim coach at Catawba College, he’s already making an impact, but for Drake, there’s more to competitive swimming than meets the eye.

You wouldn’t know it at first glance, but he’s been completely blind since 2008. Doctors told Drake the reason for his lost sight were bad brain waves.

 “At one moment I even asked God why me, why me,” said Drake. “And it’s always come back to, ‘I have a purpose and a plan for you and it will be okay.’”

And it has been. Drake continued to swim even after losing his sight at age 15. Objects known as 'tappers' helped guide him when near the wall, and stay in his own lane.

“Learning to swim straight is something else I was told is impossible,” said Drake. “Follow the lane line, but I’m hard headed and wanted to figure it out, so at the Rio games I swam my 400 freestyle without touching a single lane line."

Drake went on to win multiple medals in the Paralympic Games in Rio and the World Para Swimming Championships in Mexico City.

In April, he landed the job at Catawba College becoming the NCAA’s first blind swim coach. His lack of sight has heightened his other senses, which may make him an even better coach.

Now he has his sights set on the Paralympic games in Tokyo in 2020, and one thing is for sure, although he’s blind, his future is certainly bright. 

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