By Norm Frauenheim
Winnipeg, Canada – Kaitlin Sandeno got to sing an encore Friday night. Her second trip to the medal stand’s step was as good as the first. Maybe even better. Sandeno celebrated her Pan American Games gold medal in the women’s 800m freestyle with a chorus. After her record-setting victory in the 400m free earlier in the week, she sang the final lyrics to the U.S. national anthem by herself. This time, the crowd joined her.
“It was something I didn’t expect,” Sandeno said after she set a new Pan Am record at 8:34.65. “I just wanted to have my best times here and represent my country well here.”
In what has otherwise been a forgettable meet for the entire U.S., Sandeno did exactly what she hoped to. She is only the fourth U.S. woman to win both the 400m and 800m in Pan Am history. The others were Debbie Meyer in 1967, also at Winnipeg; Tiffany Cohen in 1983 and Jane Skillman in 1991.”
Meanwhile, Sandeno left little doubt why she’s nicknamed “The Energizer.” She was planning to leave Winnipeg for Minneapolis, where she intends to swim at the National Championships.
Sandeno is one of three swimmers to win double gold at the Pan Ams. The other two were Canada’s Joanne Malar (200m IM and 400m IM) and Brazil’s Fernando Scherer (50m and 100m freestyle). Malar set a Games record in the 200m IM at 2:14.18. In the 50m free, Scherer did the same in the preliminaries at 22.22.