Photo by Andrew Fielding-USA TODAY Sports
PASADENA, California, August 9. ANOTHER spate of amazing times were set during the third day of action at the Para Pan Pacific Championships in Pasadena.
Highlighted by gold medal performance from rookie Roderick Sewell, the 2014 U.S. Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Team continued to set the pace Friday in Pasadena, California. Through the third day of action at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Team USA leads the medal count with 76, including 18 gold medals, while Australia (59) and Canada (37) follow.
After a number of world records were set on the first and second days of competition, including one each for U.S. swimmers Becca Meyers (Timonium, Maryland) and Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Maryland), only two world records fell on Day 3, both by Australian Daniel Fox in the 100m free S14. He swam a 54.80 in the prelim but then improved to 54.69 in the evening final.
Sewell (Florence, Alabama) won the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB6 with a 1:40.68, easily topping Mexico’s Enrique Perez (1:49.52).
“I am surprised to win but at the same time, I did come into this with a lot of confidence,” he said. “I was worried that I would not win gold or that I would not medal at all but I knew what could happen if I swam my best.”
Sewell is making his debut appearance with the U.S. team.
“I’m feeling blessed,” Sewell said. “This is my first international meet so to come here, and win gold, it’s an honor. It’s a true honor to be here with this gold medal around my neck.”
Five-time U.S. Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Georgia) won a gold medal in the men’s 50m backstroke S3 while three-time U.S. Paralympian Michael DeMarco (San Diego, California) was second in the S4 event, then added a silver in the 100m free S4. In the 50m backstroke S5, two-time U.S. Paralympian Roy Perkins of Del Mar, California, won the gold medal then picked-up a silver medal in the 100m free.
“I’ve had a pretty good meet so far,” Perkins said. “The 50 back has been kind of a struggle for me over the years so it was nice to get a best time in that today. I was a little tired when it came to the 100 free but it felt pretty good. No complaints.”
Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Maryland) won his fourth title of the championships, winning the men’s 100m freestyle S11. But the two-time 2012 Paralympic gold medalist, competing at a major international event for the first time since the Paralympic Games, later suffered his first defeat in the meet at the hands Japan’s Keiichi Kimura and U.S. teammate Tharon Drake (Hobbs, New Mexico), placing third in the men’s 100m breast.
“Tharon is one of the young swimmers who makes me really excited for the next two years,” said Snyder, a team captain. “We have a lot of really talented up-and-coming swimmers in this program and I’m just excited, honored really, to be a part of this experience with them. The young swimmers are really going to make everything leading up to Rio really exciting.”
Drake, 21, is a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. In the morning prelim, he set the American record in the event, swimming 1:13.98. He swam 1:15.78 in the final, behind Kimura’s 1:14.39. Snyder swam 1:21.15.
“This morning in the preliminary, I had a great swim, it was very smooth,” Drake said. “Tonight in the final, I added some time with a 1:15.78. It felt smooth but in the first 50, I got off and hit the lane rope. But in the second 50, I felt great. I was coming back hard but I just wasn’t there at the beginning. I can’t be disappointed whatsoever. I’m happy with the swim overall.”
An alternate for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team, Drake had complications with routine vaccinations at age 14, resulting in severe memory loss and permanent loss of eyesight.
Other medalists on the day include Lucas McCrory (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) taking bronze in the men’s 100m free S7, Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana) taking bronze in S8, Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Maryland) taking bronze in S10 and Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, North Carolina) taking silver in S13. In the 100m breast, Austin was second in SB7 and Dalton Herendeen (South Bend, Indiana) was second in SB8.
On the women’s side, Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) won a gold medal in the women’s 100m back S13. Other top performances included Reilly Boyt (Ft. Collins, Colorado) finishing third in the 100m back S6, Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nevada) finishing second in the S7, Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) finishing second in S8, Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina) and Elizabeth Smith (Muncie, Indiana) finishing 2-3 in S9, Serafina King (Santa Monica, California) finishing third in S10, Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, New Mexico) finishing second in S11 and Leslie Cichocki (Palos Hills, Illinois) finishing third in S14.
Team USA finished second in the women’s 4x50m 20 point medley relay and the women’s 4×100 meter 34 point relay.
The 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships is the largest competition of the year for U.S. swimmers. Other top events on the Road to Rio include the 2015 world championships in Glasgow and the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto. The 2016 Paralympic Games are Sept. 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro.
Nathan Stein of Surrey, B.C., lowered the Canadian record in the S10 100-m freestyle on Friday for a silver medal to highlight another productive day for Canadian Para-swimmers at the Para Pan Pac Championships.
Canada won five silver and six bronze medals for a three-day total of 3-15-17.
In the men’s S10 100-m freestyle, Phelipe Rodrigues of Brazil was the victor in 52.13 seconds. Stein, a double medallist on Thursday, followed in 52.86 to eclipse the previous national mark of 53.22 set by Benoit Huot in 2012 and Ian Silverman of the U.S. was third in 53.29.
‘’I really wanted to establish my speed from the onset,’’ said Stein, a 2012 Paralympic Games team member. ‘’Rodrigues went out fast. I tried to reel him in at the end but ran out of pool. I wanted the gold but I’m pleased with the time.’’
Also in the 100 freestyle, Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Quebec City added silver in the S7 and Dalton Boon of Delta, B.C., bronze in the S14 in a Canadian record 57.34..
In the men’s S5 50-m backstroke Andrew Cooke of Penticton, B.C., with a Canadian record, and Danial Murphy of Bedford, N.S., were second and third as were Maxime Rousselle of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., and Adam Rahier of Powell River, B.C., in the men’s S14 100-m breaststroke.
Also in the 100-m breaststroke, Cameron MacDonald of Winnipeg and Alec Elliott of Waterloo, Ont., added bronze medals in the S4 and S9 categories.
‘’The breaststroke isn’t my best event but I knew it was a potential medal event for me,’’ said Elliot, who is making his international debut. ‘’I was nervous about competing here initially but I’m gaining more and more confidence with every race.’’
Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur Richelieu took silver in the women’s S10 100-m backstroke then helped Canada to bronze in the 4X100-m medley relay with Camille Bérubé of Gatineau, Que., Katarina Roxon of St. John’s N.L., and Morgan Bird of Calgary.
Bérubé amd Murphy also lowered the Canadian records in the women’s S8 100-m backstroke and men’s S5 100-m freestyle.