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Blind Swimmer Seeks More Gold


Rusty Durham doesn't know exactly how many medals he was won at the Braille Institute Swimming Olympics over the years. He does, however, know the color of a majority of them.

"Mostly gold and silver," said Durham, an 18-year-old who just finished his junior year at Birmingham High.

Durham, who has been blind since birth, is looking to add to his gold and silver collection today when he competes in the institute's 12th annual swimming Olympics at the institute in Los Angeles.

About thirty athletes from throughout Southern California are scheduled to compete in 16 events, beginning at 10 a.m.

Durham is scheduled to participate in four events, including the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle. "Basically, I want to win," he said, "but I just hope I'm doing everything right."

Durham did all right in the institute's track and field Olympics two months ago, winning four gold medals. The Northridge resident has competed in the track Olympics for seven years and the swimming Olympics for five years.

Durham, who has been swimming since he was 5, is one of three Valley-area residents who are scheduled to compete today. The others are Vickie Lovitt, a 17-year-old from Mission Hills, and Kim Fowell, a 20-year-old from Northridge.

The swimmers will be aided by lane dividers in the pool to help them maintain a proper course.

"If you swim crooked," Durham said, "the ropes can direct you back. But when I swim, I pretty much go straight anyways."

And if things go his way today, Durham hopes to go straight to the winners' platform.

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