RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, July 17. THE first set of morning finals at the Pan American Games demonstrated that some swimmers are taking to swimming fast in the mornings with the 2008 Beijing Olympics quickly coming upon us.
In sum, four Games records fell during the second session of swimming, while the United States' Mark Gangloff and Brazil's Thiago Pereira post some world-class times in their individual events of the 100 breast and 400 IM.
Women's 400 IM Finals
The United States garnered its first two pool swimming medals of the Games when Kathleen Hersey and Teresa Crippen delivered a 1-2 punch in the women's 400 medley. Hersey touched in 4:44.08 to pick up the gold medal, while Teresa Crippen earned silver in 4:46.18.
"I didn't realize I had won the first gold of the meet," Hersey said. "It definitely adds to the excitement."
"This is my first time swimming in morning finals and it's good preparation for what it would be like in Beijing," Crippen said. "The schedule is great. It's good for television and can help grow the sport. It also worked out well for me and I had my best time."
Argentina's Georgina Bardach rounded out the podium with a bronze-winning 4:47.46 as she just touched out Brazil's Joanna Maranhao (4:47.54).
Men's 400 IM Finals
Brazil's Thiago Pereira destroyed the Games record in the men's 400 IM en route to a gold-medal winning 4:11.14. The time improved his season-best of 4:11.91 set in May and moved him into fourth in the world rankings this year behind Michael Phelps (4:06.22), Ryan Lochte (4:09.74) and Luca Marin (4:09.98).
The previous Games record stood at 4:15.52 since Curtis Myden set it on Aug. 3, 1999.
Meanwhile, the United States' Robert Margalis won silver in 4:17.52, which moved him into 15th in the world this year. Also, Canada's Keith Beavers grabbed bronze in 4:19.01.
Women's 400 freestyle Finals
The United States claimed gold and bronze in the women's 400 free behind strong swims from Jessica Rodriguez and Corinne Showalter.
Rodriguez, who turned 17 today, won the event in 4:12.22, while Showalter took third in 4:13.72.
"The gold medal is the best birthday present I've ever received," Rodriquez said.
Mexico's Patricia Midori Castaneda Miyamoto split the difference with a silver-winning time of 4:13.34.
Men's 800 freestyle relay Finals
Brazil's quartet of Thiago Pereira (1:48.63), Rodrigo Castro (1:49.38), Lucas Salatta (1:47.63) and Nicolas Oliveira (1:46.63) demolished the Games record with a time of 7:12.27. The previous standard of 7:18.93 stood since the United States set it on Aug. 12, 2003.
The United States placed second as the team of Ricky Berens, Matthew Owen, Andy Grant and Robert Margalis grabbed silver in 7:16.00, while the Canadian contingent of Chad Hankewich, Stefan Hirniak, Pascal Wollach and Adam Sioui garnered bronze in 7:17.73.
Women's 50 freestyle Semifinals
Venezuela's Arlene Semeco shot down Kara Lynn Joyce's Games record of 25.24 set on Aug. 16, 2003 with a top time of 25.14. That effort held off a pair of Brazilians as Rebeca Gusmao (25.26) and Flavia Delaroli (25.34) finished second and third, respectively.
Puerto Rico's Vanessa Garcia Vega took fourth in 25.69, while Americans Samantha Woodward (25.74) and Martiza Correia (25.81) also made it to finals with fifth and sixth-place efforts.
Canada's Seanna Mitchell (26.36) and Venezuela's Ximena Vilar (26.56) will also compete for the Pan Am title.
Men's 100 freestyle Semifinals
Brazilian Cesar Cielo, after going out in 22.83, came back in 26.54 to earn the top seed in the 100 free finals in 49.37. Gabriel Woodward of the United States finished second in 49.48, while Trinidad and Tobago's George Bovell took third in 49.51.
Argentina's Jose Meolans had the fastest closing split with a 25.88, but took it out in 23.74 for a fourth-place 49.62.
The United States' Dale Rogers (49.67), Cayman Islands' Shaune Fraser (49.96), Brazil's Eduardo Deboni (50.01) and Venezuela's Albert Subirats (50.18) placed fifth through eighth to make it into finals.
Women's 100 butterfly Semifinals
Kathleen Hersey of the United States came back strong after winning the 400 IM when she clocked a top-seeded time of 59.50 in the 100 fly. Her teammate Samantha Woodward grabbed the second spot with a time of 59.88, while Brazil's Daiene Dias (1:00.48) and Gabriella Silva (1:01.49) finished third and fourth, respectively.
The Bahamas' Alana Dillette (1:02.24), Jamaica's Alia Atkinson (1:02.40), Mexico's Paulina Castro (1:02.57) and the Bahamas' Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace (1:02.85) closed out the rest of the championship finalists.
Men's 100 butterfly Semifinals
Brazil went 1-2 in the men's 100 fly semis as Gabriel Mangabeira stopped the clock in 52.94 for the top seed and Kaio Almeida tied for second with Venezuela's Albert Subirats with 53.02s.
A pair of North Americans took fourth and fifth as Canada's Joe Bartoch (53.32) and the United States' Pat O'Neil (53.44) held off Venezuela's Octavio Alesi, who placed sixth in 53.46 after setting the Games record with a time of 52.54 in prelims.
Canada's Adam Sioui (53.52) and the United States' Ricky Berens (53.66) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, to complete the top eight.
Men's 100 breaststroke Semifinals
The United States' Mark Gangloff lowered his Games record in the 100 breast semis with the third-fastest time in the world this year. Gangloff clocked a readout of 1:00.24 to beat the 1:00.95 he set in Aug. 11, 2003, and put him behind Brendan Hansen (59.80) and Kosuke Kitajima (59.96) this year.
Meanwhile, Brazil's Henrique Barbosa finished second in 1:01.47, while Canada's Scott Dickens (1:01.65) and Mathieu Bois (1:02.20) placed third and fourth, respectively.
Gangloff's teammate Christian Schurr placed fifth in 1:03.00, while Brazil's Felipe Lima and Mexico's Alfredo Jacobo Rodriguez tied for sixth with matching 1:03.02s.
Puerto Rico's Daniel Velez claimed the final transfer spot with an eighth-place 1:03.76.
Special thanks to USA Swimming for contributing to this report.