By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
MERSIN, Turkey, June 23. ON the third day of swimming at the 2013 Mediterranean Games in Mersin, Turkey, we saw our first races that included swimmers with a disability.
In the women's 100-meter freestyle S10 category, Spain's Sarai Gascon Moreno won in 1:03.94, two seconds ahead of teammate Esther Morales Fernadez. Spain saw its second gold medal of the evening in the men's 100-meter freestyle S10 category, with a win from David Julian Levecq Vives in 55.98.
In the women's 100-meter freestyle, Theodora Drakou, a member of Greece's 400-meter freestyle relay at the London Olympics, won in 55.63. On the men's side, Luca Leonardi of Italy won handily in 48.84, the only swimmer sub 49 seconds.
Spain was victorious again in the women's 200-meter breaststroke, when Jessica Vall Montero won in 2:27.22, just ahead of Italy's Elisa Celli, who was three tenths behind in 2:27.58. In the men's 200-meter breaststroke, Italy lost another close race, when Panagiotis Samildis of Greece defeated Flavio Bizzarri in 2:12.31 to earn his gold medal. Bizzarri was three tenths behind in 2:12.67.
In the women's 400-meter IM, Anja Klinar of Slovenia won four seconds ahead of the field in 4:40.49. This time is two seconds off the 4:38 she posted in the heats at the Olympic Games last summer. Klinar also swam in the semi-final of the 200-meter butterfly last summer in London.
In the men's 400-meter IM, two-time Olympic champion and distance king Oussama Mellouli won handily in 4:15.15. Mellouli won the 1500-meter freestyle at the Beijing Games in 2008 and extended his reign to the open water race in London last summer. Clearly, his 400-meter IM is nothing to scoff at either.
Italy found its way on top again in the final two events of the evening. In the women's 800-meter freestyle, Italian swimmers Martina De Memme and Aurora Ponsele' were first and second, in 8:33.17 and 8:40.70, respectively. The 800-meter freestyle relay of Damiano Lestingi, Gianluca Maglia, Federico Turrini and Alex Di Giorgio won gold for in 7:19.37. The victorious Italians finished just ahead of France, who placed second in 7:19.79.
Italy is still way ahead in the medal count, with a total of 33: 12 gold, 16 silver and 5 bronze.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M's first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o