After dominating in the 2017 DeafLympics, Matt Klotz has his sights set for a 2020 World Olympic bid with Hungary.
He has represented the United States in the past. However, his father is Hungarian. He hopes to get dual-citizenship and compete for Hungary in 2020. He said that he would try for the United States, but in order to represent them, he would have to be a gold medalist.
Klotz is starting his junior season at LSU and has set his goals pretty high. After breaking three World Deaf Swimming records in the 2018 U.S. Nationals, he is aiming for the LSU backstroke record.
Klotz has not always been an elite swimmer. He started out testing other sports.
“I wasn’t very good at swimming when I was younger until I got to college,” Klotz said. “Then I got serious around junior year. That is when I started trying those last two years because I knew I had a chance of getting into college.”
Swimming wasn’t even his first love. Klotz participated in many sports, including soccer and basketball, but once his sister started swimming, he decided to follow in her footsteps.
What he liked about swimming was the friendships he formed. He said that it is easy to get close with his teammates because of the amount of time he spends practicing and training with the team, especially in college where he even lives with teammates.
A normal day for Klotz is pretty busy. It is mostly filled with practice and eating. It always starts with morning practice and weight before he has breakfast and goes to class. Then he goes to afternoon practices before going home.
He said that he has to eat so much because of all the calories he burns swimming. They lift weights and work out so much that all they do is burn calories, but he eventually got used to the constant grind.
While Klotz is partially deaf, his hearing is more of an obstacle during practice than in the actual competitions. In practice, he is unable to really hear what the coaches are telling him. He needs a lot more one-on-one time with them. He has to practice the starts a little harder because he is unable to hear the starting sets. He just hears the start. However, he thinks that in competition it is an advantage. It’s easier to focus without hearing fans and opponents.
“Sometimes I wish I had chosen another sport,” Klotz said. “One that looks easier. I really like football, but would I have gone to LSU for football? Probably not. In high school I always wanted to do it, but my mom told me no. She didn’t want me to be distracted.”
With all of the rigorous training that he goes through every day, especially while competing as a deaf athlete, the hardest part is finding a life outside of swimming. His life outside, however, still has to do with water.
“You do it twice a day.” Klotz said. “You are consumed by swimming. That is what I want to focus on this year and do things I haven’t done before and reset during the weekend.” “I like to hang out with friends. Sometimes we go wake boarding. Sometimes there are alligators, but we take that risk. There’s still water involved so it’s interesting,” Klotz said.
Most of the friends he hangs out with are his fellow teammates. However, he finds relief in one of his friends that is not a swimmer. He likes not being surrounded by swim life the entire time.
Although he sometimes feels consumed by swimming, he enjoys it.
“As a swimmer you know you aren’t going to make millions, unless you’re Michael Phelps. You aren’t in it for the money or fame. I just enjoy watchingmyself grow.”