LONDON, England, September 1. A remarkable third night of action at the 2012 London Paralympics featured world records nearly every swim, while Ellie Simmonds whipped the London Aquatics Center crowd into near hysterics with a come-from-behind world-record victory. Meanwhile, USA's Jessica Long ripped off her third triumph of the week as nothing looks to be able to stop her in her events.
Brazil's Andre Brasil claimed his second gold medal of the meet with a sterling Games record time of 56.35 in the men's 100 fly S10 to start night three. That swim eclipsed his 2008 Paralympics time of 56.47, to give Brasil his third medal of the meet. He won the 50 free S10 last night in 23.16, after taking silver in the 200 IM SM10 event with a 2:12.36 on night one. He has one more opportunity this week to gain another medal as he will be on Brazil's 400 free relay 34 points squad tomorrow.
(Want some insight into the classification system at the Paralympics? Click here to read Jeff Commings' breakdown of the groupings.)
Russia's Dmitry Grigorev claimed silver tonight in 56.89, just .54 seconds back, to clear the European record. South Africa's Achmat Hassieum clocked an African-record 57.76 to earn bronze. Grigorev earned his first medal in three tries this meet, after fifth in the 50 free and 200 IM. Hassiem, meanwhile, claimed is first medal of the meet. Hassiem is known as Sharkboy in his country as a shark attack caused his disability.
New Zealand's Sophie Pascoe turned in her second global mark of the meet with a sterling time of 1:04.43 to win the women's 100 fly S10. That effort blasted more than a second from her previous world record of 1:05.66 from April of this year. Notably, she also blew past the Games record of 1:08.88 set by Gemma Dashwood well back in 1996. On night one, Pascoe obliterated the world record in the 200 IM SM10 with a 2:25.65 before taking silver in the 50 free S10 with a 28.24 last night. She now owns five Paralympic gold medals in her career after topping the 100 back and 100 breast events in 2008.
Poland's Oliwia Jablonska clocked a European record in the 100 fly S10 with a 1:08.55 to win silver, while France's Elodie Lorandi captured bronze with a 1:09.08. Jablonska placed fifth in the 50 free last night with a 30.58, while Lorandi now has two bronzes this meet. She finished third in the 50 free last night with a 28.67.
Ireland's Darragh McDonald dominated the men's 400 free S6 event with a smooth time of 4:55.56, much to the pleasure of the London Aquatics Center cheering on the 18 year old known as “Curly Fries” due to his disheveled haircut. He dropped seven seconds from his preliminary leading effort of 5:02.38. Sweden's Anders Olsson, the world record holder with a 4:47.75 from 2009, wound up with silver in a time of 5:03.44 at 46 years of age. Olsson is a legend in the Paralympic movement, having first competed at the Games in 1980. He has won seven gold medals, along with a total career tally of 15 with his silver tonight. Great Britain's Matthew Whorwood gave the hosts a bronze-winning effort of 5:11.59.
Great Britain's Eleanor Simmonds not only used a superior final 100 meters to down the world record in the women's 400 free S6 event, she sent the London Aquatics Center in a frenzy by the end of her win. Her triumphant time of 5:19.17 smashed the previous world record of 5:24.46 set by USA's Victoria Arlen in June. Not only did the crowd in attendance go wild over the come-from-behind victory, Twitter's #paralympics hashtag nearly broke with the amount of congratulatory notes to the champion. Some also claimed that the ovation proved to be louder than even swims during the 2012 London Olympics a month ago.
“I'm so exhausted!” Simmonds said after the emotional victory. “I just put my head down and thought 'I'm gonna do it for everyone here.'”
Incidentally, Simmonds' time also dropped a massive amount of time from her Games standard of 5:41.34 set in 2008. Simmonds now has three Paralympic golds in three tries. She won the 100 and 400 free S6 events in Beijing. Arlen, who had led throughout most of the race, wound up with an American standard time of 5:20.18 for silver, four seconds under her previous best from June. China's Song Lingling earned bronze with an Asian-record time of 5:33.78.
Following an extended podium break, Ukraine's Andriy Kalyna responded with a victorious time in the men's 100 breast SB8. Kalyna turned in a time of 1:07.45 to win the event, after missing finals in the 100 back S9 on night one. Kalyna's world and Games record of 1:07.01 from 2008 held up to the record attempt. Kalyna now has three golds having won the 100 breast SB8 event in three straight Paralympics. He also has a total career medal tally of six. Australia's Matthew Cowdrey won silver with an Oceania record of 1:09.88, while The Netherlands' Maurice Deelen took bronze in 1:11.09. Cowdrey pushed his career medal tally to 17.
Just minutes later, Russia's Olesya Vladykina slashed half-a-second from her world record in the women's 100 breast SB8 event. She won the gold medal in 1:17.17, besting her October 2009 global mark of 1:17.60. She also demolished her previous Games record of 1:20.58 from Beijing. Vladykina, who was a professional able-bodied swimmer 10 years before the car accident that took her left arm and killed her friend, now has two Paralympic gold medals. Great Britain's Claire Cashmore won silver in 1:20.39, while Poland's Paulina Wozniak turned in a bronze-winning time of 1:22.45. Cashmore went from eighth in the 100 fly on night one to the medal podium with her effort tonight, while Wozniak took sixth in the 100 fly on night one.
Brazil's Daniel Dias earned his second gold medal of the meet with a 15-second victory in the men's 200 free S5 finale. He rocketed to a triumphant time of 2:27.83, blasting his previous Games record of 2:32.32. He missed his world record of 2:26.51 set in 2010. Dias added this gold to the one he already claimed in the 50 free S5 earlier in the meet, and now has 11 career medals, six of the gold variety. Spain's Sebastian Rodriguez clipped USA's Roy Perkins by just .03 seconds for silver, 2:43.11 to 2:43.14. At 55 years of age, Rodriguez now has 14 career medals, including eight golds. He went five-for-five in 2000 and won a trio of golds in 2004.
Norway's Sara Louise Rung then won the women's 200 free S5 gold medal with a time of 2:49.74. The win gave the 22-year-old her a second medal this week, having already captured the silver medal in the 200 IM SM5 last night with a 3:15.89. Spain's Teresa Perales turned in a 2:51.79 to earn silver in the event tonight, giving her a third medal this week. She already took silver in the 50 free S5 on night one with a 36.50 and bronze in the 200 IM with a 3:28.58 last night. Israel's Inbal Pezaro rounded out the podium with a third-place time of 2:56.11.
China's Yang Bozun demolished the world record in the men's 50 free S11 with a scintillating time of 25.27. That effort overhauled the previous mark of 25.82 set by Spain's Enhamed Enhamed during his 2008 Paralympic gold medal performance. Yang now has a pair of medal this week, after taking silver in the 100 free with a 58.61 last night. USA's Brad Snyder posted an American record with a 25.93 for second as he and Yang flipped their 100 free finishes. Snyder topped the longer distance event last evening with a 57.43. Snyder is one of the most notable Paralympians as the Navy Lieutenant lost his sight during an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan. Snyder was the captain of the Navy collegiate swim team in 2006 before moving on to active service. Enhamed wound up taking bronze in the event with a 26.37. Enhamed now has five career medals, having won four gold in 2008.
Italy's Cecilia Camellini became the first swimming in the women's 50 free S11 division to surpass 31 seconds as she raced to victory in 30.94. That performance eclipsed the world and Games record of 31.21 set by compatriot Maria Poiani Panigatti back in 2008. Camellini completed a clean sweep of the freestyle sprint events in the category after winning the 100 free in 1:07.29 last night, this after taking silver in both event in 2008 to account for a tally of four Paralympic medals. China's Li Guizhi posted an Asian record with a second-place time of 31.01, also under the former global standard, while New Zealand's Mary Fisher clocked an Oceanic record of 31.67 for third-place honors.
The splash-and-dash events continued as South Africa's Charl Bouwer became the first African under 24 seconds in the men's 50 free S13 with a 23.99. He gave the world record of 23.75 set by Ukraine's Oleksii Fedyna a scare in the process. Belarus' Ihar Boki took silver with a time of 24.07, while defending champ Fedyna wound up third in 24.09. Fedyna now has six Paralympic medals to his credit, three of the gold variety from 2008.
USA's Kelley Becherer defended her women's 50 free S13 Paralympic gold medal with an American standard time of 27.46. She came up just shy of the world and Games record of 27.38 set by Germany's Yvonne Hopf back in 1996. Becherer now has four career Paralympic medals, having already won the 50 in 2008 and taken bronze in both the 100 and 400 free in Beijing as well. Canada's Valerie Grand-Maison took silver in 27.91, her seventh career Paralympic medal. Not bad as Grand-Maison had originally quit the sport following her six-medal haul in 2008. She returned to the sport to swim for McGill head coach Peter Carpenter socially before getting bit by the competitive bug. Australia's Prue Watt wound up with bronze in 27.94.
Another race, and another world record up on the scoreboard at the London Aquatics Center as the Paralympians continued to turn in jaw-dropping performances throughout night three. Australia's Blake Cochrane posted a 1:18.77 to win the men's 100 breast SB7 event, clearing his world record of 1:19.06 from March 2012 in the process. Cochrane also smashed the Games record of 1:22.18 set by Sascha Kindred in Beijing. The win is Cochrane's first Paralympic gold. Japan's Tomotaro Nakamura won silver in 1:22.04, while Australia's Matthew Levy claimed bronze with a 1:22.62. Defending champ Kindred placed fourth in 1:23.53.
Pre-meet reclassifications put two U.S. Paralympic stalwarts head-to-head in the SB7 division as Jessica Long and Mallory Weggemann, both former Swimming World Disabled Swimmers of the Year, competed against each other in the women's 100 breast SB7 event. Long came out on top with a Games record time of 1:29.28, pushing her career gold-medal tally to 10 with her third win this week. Weggemann, meanwhile, dealing with a new division for the first time wound up taking sixth in 1:43.62. Ukraine's Oksana Khrul took second-place honors in 1:35.68, while The Netherlands' Lisa den Braber finished third in 1:37.02.
Long continued to add to her impressive career. She is a two-time winner of Swimming World's Disabled Swimmer of the Year, and became the first Paralympian to win the AAU's James Sullivan award as the top amateur athlete in the U.S. in 2007. When all is said and done, her story as a Russian orphan adopted when she was 13 months old who then had to overcome having both her legs amputated below the knee at 18 months is destined to become a movie script.
China's Yang Yang concluded the third night of action with a Games and Asian record of 4:36.18 in the men's 200 free S2 division. That swim bested the 4:45.43 Games record set by Russia's Dmitrii Kokarev in 2008, but missed Kokarev's April 2012 world record of 4:34.39. Kokarev, meanwhile, checked in with a silver-winning 4:39.23, while Israel's Itzhak Mamistvalov won bronze in 4:58.53, just edging teammate Iad Josef Shalabi (4:58.54).