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Rodgers Forge resident and paralympic champion to swim at USC

Ian Silverman was thrilled to compete in the USA Swimming Junior National Championships and the Paralympic Pan Pacific Games in California this month.

Soon, swimming in California will be an everyday thing for the Rogers Forge resident.

Silverman, who has a mild form of cerebral palsy, will jump in the pool for the University of Southern California Trojans.

It's a prestigious program. The Trojans finished the 2014 season ranked as the fourth best men's team in the country, according to the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll.

Silverman, 6 feet 2, 180 pounds, should be ready for the challenge after swimming the past 10 years for the North Baltimore Aquatic Club, the same program that produced Michael Phelps. Silverman's training includes nine workouts a week during which he swims about 60,000 yards.

At least once a week, he trains with the same group of swimmers that Michael Phelps does.

Silverman also had an opportunity to showcase his outstanding ability by competing in the Paralympics in London in 2012 and the Paralympic World Championships in Montreal last year.

Now, with practice starting Aug. 21, USC is on his mind. He specializes in the freestyle.

"I have a lot of friends who have graduated before me and gone on to college and say they love it," said Silverman, who picked USC over two other programs with top-25 rankings, Ohio State and North Carolina. "It will be different, but a good change. I am really excited about it. It will be a whole new training experience with new partners. It will be tough. "

NBAC coach Erik Posegay is confident that Silverman, a McDonogh School graduate, will have no trouble adjusting to college swimming.

"He is prepared to succeed in college," Posegay said. "We have helped him get to the highest level possible. We definitely model our program after a lot of college programs."

The way Silverman is swimming, he appears more than ready for college-level competition.

He set three personal records at the USA Swimming Junior National Championships in Irvine, Calif., last week.

He excelled in the 400 (4:03.03), 200 (1:55.73) and the 1,500-meter freestyle at Junior Nationals for the second time.

"It's the 18-and-under national championships for our country and it has 1,100 swimmers," Posegay said. "It's an honor for Ian to be competing with so many outstanding swimmers. We want him at his peak, and obviously he is at his peak right now."

Silverman also competed in the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships this week in Pasadena, Calif.

"It's the best swimmers from the Pacific Rim countries like Australia, Japan and Canada," Posegay said.

Silverman's success in Paralympic events has been eye-catching.

He set a world record in the London Paralympics in the 400 free and also won the 400 free in last year's Paralympic World Championships while finishing second in the 100 free and third in both the 200 individual medley and 50 free.

"I think what he has done given his disability is phenomenal," Posegay said of Silverman. "I have told the Paralympic people that he has taken their sport to another level. There is no other Paralympic swimmer at his level in USA swimming. He is a ground-breaker."

Silverman hopes for a lot of success in the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships.

"I just want to use it as a steppingstone for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro," he said. "I definitely want to perform my best and that means winning some events, then that would be a good marker and give me a lot of confidence going into next year."

Silverman said he has to outwork many other swimmers because of his disability.

His high school coach, McDonogh's Scott Ward, agrees.

"Swimming hasn't come easily for him," Ward said. "That's why I think he is so tough. He found out he keeps improving the harder he works.

"He has a high tolerance for pain. When he is swimming, he swims like he is almost angry. He is very aggressive."

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