SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic, August 11. TURNING in the fastest qualifying time in three of the four events, setting a new Pan-Am Games record and advancing all eight swimmers to this evening's finals, the USA National team was as hot as the weather as the swimming events of the XIV Pan American Games began today.
With pool water temperatures still hovering in the mid-80's and air temperatures in the 90's, Amanda Weir started the meet off with a bang, breaking Angel Martino's 12 year-old Games record in the 100 freestyle with a time of 55.26. Weir, 16, who went 54.99 at the Southern Sectional meet in Athens, GA last month, jumped out to an early lead in the fourth of five heats and breezed to the record. She led three teammates in nailing down the top four spots – Colleen Lanne was second (55.87), Courtney Shealey was third (55.91) and Christina Swindle was fourth (56.53).
Other qualifiers included Argentina's Florencia Szigeti 5th (56.73), Brazil's Flavia Delaroli 6th (56.95), Panama's Eileen Copparopa 7th (56.98) and Canada's Audrey LaCroix 8th (57.09).
Although each country is allowed up to 4 entries per event, only two can advance and must be declared prior to the competition. Shealy and Swindle will be the two American's to advance to the finals.
Not to be outdone, the USA men captured the top two spots in the 100 breaststroke with Mark Gangloff (Akron, OH) leading the way in 1:02.04. Teammate Jarrod Marrs was 2nd in 1:02.15 as both Americans were over a half-second ahead of the rest of the field.
Two Brazilians appear to be the strongest contenders for medals in addition to the two Americans. Eduardo Fischer was 3rd in 1:02.77 and Henrique Barbosa was 5th in 1:02.98. Two other American's competed, but, will not be advancing. Kyle Salyards was 4th (1:02.83) and Sean Quinn was 10th (1:04.53).
The women's 400 IM will be the toughest test for the USA this evening with Canadian Olympian Joanne Malar returning to international competition with an impressive 4:49.58 clocking to lead all qualifiers. Malar overtook American Andrea Cassidy during the breaststroke and held her off in the freestyle in winning the 2nd of the 3 heats. Cassiday was 3rd (4:51.60).
Argentinian Georgina Bardach was 2nd in 4:50.78; while American Kristen Caverly nailed down the 4th spot in 4:51.69. The 3rd American who competed, Jamie Reid, was 7th (4:55.02), but, will not advance this evening.
The final preliminary event was the men's 200 freestyle and American Ryan Lochte was the lone sub-1:50 swimmer as he took top honors in 1:49.61. But like Weir in the 100 free, Lochte will not be advancing this evening. That honor will go to Dan Ketchum who took 4th (1:51.09) and Jeff Lee who was 6th(1:51.95).
Two American college stars will be seeded first and second. Lee's USC teammate, Rodrigo Castro of Brazil was 2nd (1:50.68) and Auburn's George Bovell fresh off a strong world championships for Trinidad and Tobago was 3rd (1:50.99). American Davis Tarwater
was 5th in 1:51.36, but, like Lochte will not swim this evening.
Tonight's finals will conclude with the women's 4 x 200 free relay which due to less than 8 teams will be conducted as a timed final.