Talmadge Atkins was born with a genetic seizure disorder known as Dravet syndrome, which causes seizures that are difficult to control with medication is age 38. Currently there is no cure for Dravet syndrome. He has been swimming independently since he was six years old. Very early, he showed a love for swimming in pools and open water.
When he was 20 years old, a teacher encouraged him to compete in triathlons. Atkins swims independently, but a guide helps him navigate the swim course. When he competes in biking, he rides a tandem road bike for the cycling course. And he is pushed in a jogger by a guide for the run. Some of his guides are elite athletes, marathon swimmers, and ultra racers. All guides are volunteers and passionate about making a difference for a person who has a disability.
Atkins, trains at the Janet Evans Swim Complex (JESC) in Fullerton, completed a one-mile swim at Challenged Athletes Foundation San Diego Triathlon Challenge in Mission Bay, San Diego, in October. He has been participating in the event for about 15 years, trains three days a week during lap swim at JESC, which is operated by Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team.