RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, July 22. THE final session of the Pan American Games competition featured plenty of top times as competitors blew off some steam during the going-home set of races. Several top-10 times in the world this year were set in the meet finale. Overall, 23 events witnessed Games records throughout the entire meet.
Women's 100 freestyle Finals
Rebeca Gusmao led a Brazilian 1-3 effort in the women's 100 free. Gusmao clocked a 55.17 to win the gold medal, while compatriot Flavia Delaroli took bronze in 55.84. Venezuela's Arlene Semeco split the difference with silver in 55.78.
Puerto Rico's Vanessa Garcia Vega finished the first 50 meters in first with a 26.17 split, but could not keep that pace up and placed fourth in 56.61. Meanwhile, American Lauren Thies finished fifth in 56.67.
Men's 100 backstroke Finals
The United States' owned the men's backstroke with a top-two sweep. Randall Bal, fresh off setting the American record in the 50 back in Europe this summer, checked in with the fourth-fastest time in the world this year. He won the event in a Games-record time of 53.66 to shatter the 54.74 set by Jeff Rouse 12 years ago on March 16, 1995.
Bal also stands behind only Aaron Peirsol (52.98), Ryan Lochte (53.50) and Liam Tancock (53.61) in the world rankings this year.
"Lately, I've had a different mindset," Bal said. "Live it up and have fun. I realize how honored I am to represent my country and travel the world."
Teammate Peter Marshall garnered silver by touching out the superstar of the meet, Brazil's Thiago Pereira, 54.64 to 54.75. For more information on Pereira's remarkable run at the meet so far, click here.
Women's 200 backstroke Finals
The final session proved fruitful for the United States' Teresa Crippen. After setting the Games record at 2:12.35 during prelims, she dropped the hammer with a time of 2:10.57 for the gold medal today.
That performance tied her for sixth in the world this year with Hanae Ito, with only Margaret Hoelzer (2:07.16), Kirsty Coventry (2:07.54), Reiko Nakamura (2:08.54), Alessia Filippi (2:09.04) and Esther Baron (2:09.59) having better times this year.
"It was my best time and I finally got a gold medal," Crippen said. "But to get a best time is all I can ask for."
Meanwhile, Crippen's teammate Julia Smit posted a time within the top 15 in the world with a silver-winning 2:11.18. Canada's Liz Wycliffe grabbed bronze in 2:13.29.
Men's 50 freestyle Finals
Brazil's Cesar Cielo tied Cullen Jones for seventh all-time in the world with a Games-record performance of 21.84. Cielo now stands behind only Alexander Popov (21.64), Roland Schoeman (21.69), Gary Hall Jr. and Alain Bernard (21.76) (Bernard tied Hall for third all-time with a 21.76 this past June), Anthony Ervin (21.80) and Tom Jager (21.81) in the all-time rankings in the event.
Cielo's teammate Nicholas Santos checked in with a silver-winning 22.18, while Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell rounded out the podium in 22.36.
Gabriel Woodward of the United States finished fourth in 22.49, while Hall tied with Argentina's Jose Meolans for fifth in 22.52.
Women's 200 breaststroke Finals
After circling around her top time set at the Duel in the Pool this year, American Caitlin Leverenz clipped it by .01 seconds with a Games-record time of 2:25.62 to improve her eighth-best time in the world this year. She also chopped nearly a second off her Games record of 2:26.59 set during semis.
"The race felt really well," Leverenz said. "I was happy to race one of my best times and I'm glad to have two Americans on the medal stand."
Canada'a Annamay Pierse finished with silver in 2:26.79 for a time within the top 15 in the world this year, while the United States' Keri Hehn garnered bronze in 2:28.20.
Pierse's time broke the oldest Canadian record on the books of 2:27.27 set by Allison Higson at the 1988 Canadian Olympic Trials, which at the time was a world record.
"I've wanted that record since I was 16-years-old," said Pierse. "I'm so happy to get it. I got within range in yesterday's semifinal but I tried to not think about it too much today. I just tried to stay relaxed and in control. But I'm not surprised to get the record. The training has been going great and I knew if I raced smart I would get it."
Women's 400 medley relay Finals
The United States' contingent of Julia Smit (1:01.94), Michelle McKeehan (1:08.59), Kathleen Hersey (58.57) and Martiza Correia (55.50) broke the Games record with a time of 4:04.60. That effort eclipsed the 4:05.92 set by the Americans on Aug. 15, 2003.
Meanwhile, Canada's quartet of Liz Wycliffe, Annamay Pierse, Stephanie Horner and Chanelle Charron-Watson snared silver in 4:07.85, while Brazil's team of Fabiola Molina, Tatiana Sakemi, Daiene Dias and Rebeca Gusmao pocketed bronze in 4:09.27.
Men's 400 medley relay Finals
The United States doubled its relay golds for the day by winning the final event of the meet with a Games-record time. The squad of Randall Bal (53.83), Mark Gangloff (59.54), Ricky Berens (52.25) and Andy Grant (48.75) shattered the former record with a time of 3:34.37. The time knocked nearly four seconds off the 3:38.27 set by the United States on Aug. 16, 2003.
Brazil's Thiago Pereira, Henrique Barbosa, Kaio Almeida and Cesar Cielo nabbed silver in 3:35.81, while Canada's team of Matt Hawes, Scott Dickens, Joe Bartoch and Adam Sioui closed out the podium in 3:38.16.
Medal Standings Analysis
The United States completed the meet with 30 medals overall, including 14 gold, 12 silver and four bronze. Three of those golds came from the men, while 11 were earned by women.
Brazil placed second with 20 medals comprised of 10 gold, four silver and six bronze. Thiago Pereira definitely helped the cause with six gold medals. Brazil won the men's gold-medal tally with nine, compared to three from the U.S. and one from Canada. Meanwhile, Brazil snatched the only other women's gold medal that the U.S. did not win.
Canada finished third in the medal race with 13 (1G, 3S, 9B), while Venezuela earned fourth with 4 (2S, 2B) and Mexico took fifth with 3 (2S, 1B). Argentina provided the only other country with multiple medals with 2 (1S, 1B), while the Cayman Islands, Barbados and Puerto Rico each chipped in a single medal.
Special thanks to USA Swimming and Swimming Canada for contributing to this report.