PASADENA, California, August 7. PARALYMPIC swimmers took a hammer to the Pan Pacific Championship record book during night one of the meet. Here’s a sampling of what the different countries saw out of their own swimmers:
Team USA’s Ian Silverman smashed a nearly 13-year-old world record in the men’s 400-meter freestyle S10 race Wednesday, highlighting Day 1 of the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships in Pasadena, California. During the first day of action at Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, the U.S. team won 27 medals, including six from the sweep of the women’s 50m free S9 and S13 races.
“It’s a huge accomplishment to break a world record,” Silverman said. “I really can’t even put it into words what it means to finally get that one. I’ve been close to it before, really close, and I am really happy to start my week with that world record. That’s the one I wanted.”
Silverman, a Baltimore native who will swim at the University of Southern California this fall, won the same event at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, only months after learning about Paralympic sport. “That world record has been a monkey on my back since I just missed it in London,” said Silverman, who now holds four world records including the men’s 800m free, the men’s 1500m free and the men’s 400m individual medley.
When Canada’s Philippe Gagnon swam the previous world record (4:04.20) in the men’s 400m S10 on Aug. 7, 2001, Silverman was only 5.
“There have been so many great swimmers to swim that race and this record has held the test of time,” Silverman said. “To be the one to finally break it, it’s a huge honor.”
Silverman was joined on the podium by Canada’s Alec Elliott, who swam 4:16.61, and Team USA’s Dalton Herendeen (South Bend, Indiana), who swam a 4:20.75.
Other world records set on Day 1: Australia’s Kayla Clark in the women’s 100m butterfly S14 with a 1:10.25 in the preliminary; Australia’s Taylor Corry in the women’s 50m free S14 with a 28.36 in the prelim; Brazil’s Daniel Dias in the men’s 50m fly with a 33.98 in the final; and Team Canada in the 4×100 free 56 point relay with a 3:54.42.
While Silverman reigned supreme on the men’s side, the U.S. women dominated the women’s 50m free S9 and S13 races, sweeping the medals in both events.
Michelle Konkoly (Eagleview, Pennsylvania), a Georgetown swimmer competing in her first meet with Team USA, swam a 29.40, topping country mates Elizabeth Smith (Muncie, Indiana), 30.27, and Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, North Carolina), 30.47, in the S9 event. Minutes later, Martha Ruether (Allegany, New York) swam a 28.58 to beat Becca Meyers (Timonium, Maryland), who swam 28.63, and Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri), who swam 28.80.
“It was awesome to sweep the medals,” Konkoly said. “Before the race, we knew it was possible to sweep with how we’ve been swimming, so we huddled together and decided to show them what Team USA is made of. Lizzie had a really great swim and Hannah dropped a ton of time today. It was really, really cool to be there with my teammates next to me.”
Four other U.S. athletes won gold medals on Day 1. Brad Snyder (Baltimore, Maryland), retired U.S. Navy, made his return to international swimming after a two-year hiatus by placing first in the men’s 400m free S11, an event he also won at the 2012 Paralympic Games. He topped Tharon Drake (Hobbs, New Mexico), who claimed bronze.
On the women’s side, Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland) and Brickelle Bro (Castle Rock, Colorado) placed first and third in the women’s 100m fly S8. Meyers and Cailin Currie (Danvers, Massachusetts) placed first and second in the women’s 100m fly S13. Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nevada) and Leanne Smith (Rowley, Massachusetts) placed first and second in the women’s 50m free S7.
Alyssa Gialamas (Naperville, Illinois) set the tone for Team USA, winning a silver medal in the women’s 200-meter freestyle (S5) with an American record 3:12.37 swim that shaved nearly five seconds off her preliminary race. “I’ve never been so happy to finish second,” Gialamas said.
Her record mark was significantly faster than what she swam at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, where she finished fifth.
“I’m really, really excited because I have not been that fast since the Paralympics,” said Gialamas, who also finished second in the women’s 50m free with an American record 44.90. “In London, I swam a 3:15 and here, I swam a 3:12. I have been working really, really hard over the past two years and now it’s starting to show in my times.”
Lucas McCrory, in his debut meet with Team USA, followed Gialamas’ first medal by claiming the silver medal in the men’s 400m freestyle (S7) behind Brazil’s Italo Pereira. “There were definitely jitters with being here but this race is a long swim so once I got into it, I started to loosen up and I felt pretty good,” McCrory said.
Other medals claimed by Team USA: Ryan Duemler (Chesterfield, Missouri) placed second in the men’s 400m free S8; Roy Perkins (Del Mar, California) placed second in the men’s 50m free S5; Rafael Castillo (Miami, Florida) placed third in the men’s 50m free S6; E. Smith finished second in the women’s 100m fly S9; Anna Eames (Golden Valley, Minnesota) placed second in the women’s 100m fly S10; Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, New Mexico) placed second in the women’s 100m fly S11; Kayla Wheeler (Lynnwood, Washington) placed third in the women’s 50m free S3; Eames placed third in the women’s 50m free S10; and Martinez placed second in the women’s 50m free S11.
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.
Competition is daily from Aug. 6-10 with preliminaries at 9:30 a.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m.
Aurélie Rivard of St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., capped a solid opening night for Canadian Para-swimmers with the gold medal in her 50-m freestyle race Wednesday at the Para Pan Pacific Championships.
Canada ended the evening with one gold, four silver and six bronze while four Canadian records were broken.
In the women’s 50-m freestyle in the S10 category, Rivard clocked a personal best 28.34 seconds. Katherine Downie of Australia was second in 29.33 and Anna Eames of the U.S. third in 29.71. Samantha Ryan of Saskatoon was seventh.
‘’I’m more of a 400-m swimmer so it was important for me to a get off the blocks a lot faster than usual,’’ said Rivard, 18, a five-time medallist at the world championships last year. ‘’Seeing that kind of improvement in the first race gives me a lot of confidence.’’
Also in the 50-m freestyle: Morgan Bird of Calgary and Justine Morrier of St-Jean-Richelieu, Que., each added a silver in the S8 and S14 categories; Brianna Nelson of Victoria broke her Canadian record in the S7 clocking 33.91 for the bronze medal with Sarah Mehain of Vernon, B.C., and Tess Routliffe of Caledon Ont., fourth and fifth. Danielle Kisser of Delta, B.C., lowered the national mark in the S7 for sixth spot.
Canada collected four more medals in the men’s 400-m freestyle. Devin Gotell of Antigonish, N.S., and Nicolas-Guy Turbide of Quebec City took silver and bronze in the S13 while Alec Elliot of Waterloo, Ont., won silver in the S10 with Isaac Bouckley of Oshawa, Ont., fourth. Christian Daniel of Calgary was third in the S6.
In the women’s 100-m butterfly, Ryan and Rhea Schmidt of Winnipeg both placed third in the S10 and S13 categories. Ryan, 15, is one of seven Para-swimmers on the Canadian team making their international debut.
‘’I never expected this at all,’’ said Ryan who clocked a personal best 1:14.48. ‘’I was pretty nervous about the race. It was important for me to stay focused on my plan and swim for myself.’’
Schmidt was pleased to see a medal performance after a tough 2013 season.
‘’I’ve been more consistent with my training this year,’’ said Schmidt. ‘’Last year there was also stress with school and some health issues. A result like tonight can really set the tone for the rest of the meet.’’
Jean-Michel Lavalliere of Quebec City added a bronze in the men’s S7 50-m butterfly with Danial Miurphy of Bedford, N.S. fifth. Murphy also broke his Canadian record in the 50-m butterfly in the prelims clocking 48.62.
Canada’s other Canadian record on the day was set by Adam Purdy of London, Ont. Purdy clocked 38.36 in the S6 50-m butterfly for fourth place. The 33-year-old is back on the national team after a seven-year retirement.
‘’It’s nice when you can start a competition like this with a Canadian record, especially in my situation’’ said Purdy, who held the previous mark at 39.13 set at the 2000 Paralympic Games. ‘’I now do my butterfly with one arm rather than two and I feel I can go a lot faster. And my underwater work has really paid off as well.
Competition continues through to Sunday. The preliminaries are at 9: 30 a.m. and finals at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific) each day.
The Australian Swim Team competing at the Para Pan Pacs in Pasadena, California have picked up a total of 18 medals, including nine gold on the first night of competition at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Centre.
London Paralympians Kayla Clarke and Taylor Corry (2:14.87) were the first to add to the team’s medal haul when they won gold and silver respectively in the women’s S14 200m freestyle.
The duo were in a tight tussle for first place with Clarke just getting the better of Corry at the wall in a time of 2:14.75.
Clarke added another gold to her haul from the night one with a win in the women’s S14 100m butterfly in a time of 1:11.01 while Corry also upgraded to gold in the women’s S14 50m freestyle, hitting the wall in a time of 28.36.
The Australian team demonstrated their dominance in the men’s S9 400m freestyle, coming away with a clean sweep of the podium. Brenden Hall picked up the bragging rights, finishing in an impressive time of 4:11.78, withRowan Crothers his closest competitor, hitting the wall for silver in 4:18.46 and debutant Timothy Disken taking the bronze in 4:30.29.
The gold rush continued with Paralympian Sean Russo (4:19.79) who took the win in the men’s S13 400m freestyle, followed by Matt Levy (31.36) in the men’s S7 50m butterfly, Madeleine Scott (1:10.64) in the women’s S9 100m butterfly and then Katherine Downie (1:09.87) in the women’s S10 100m butterfly.
Downie also added a silver when she hit the wall in a time of 29.33 in the women’s S10 50m freestyle final.
Fresh from their success at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, Maddison Elliott (31.07) and Lakeisha Patterson (32.14) picked up their first medals of the meet with a gold and a bronze respectively in the women’s S8 50m freestyle.
The Aussies then added silver to their medal collection with Elliott stopping the clock in 1:15.17 in the women’s S8 100m butterfly for second place, while Regan Wickens secured silver in the men’s S6 400m freestyle as didMatt Haanappel in the men’s S6 50m butterfly.
Finally in the men’s S8 400m freestyle, Jesse Aungles made his way onto the podium for third place in a time of 4:51.74.
The women’s S6 and S9 50m freestyle events saw Taylor Huebner and Ashleigh Cockburn finish sixth in their respective events.
The competition will continue tomorrow until Sunday August 10.