Photo Courtesy: Paul Cunningham-USA TODAY Sports
PASADENA, California, August 11. NEWCOMER Michelle Konkoly helped the United States close the 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships on a golden note, breaking away from Australia as the anchor of the women’s 4×100-meter 34 point freestyle relay, the final medal event of the meet. Team USA finished the five-day competition at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center in Pasadena, California, with 34 gold medals, including Konkoly’s individual win in today’s women’s 100m free S9.
Team USA finished atop the medal standings with 115 medals (34 golds, 49 silvers and 32 bronzes), although Australia won the gold medal count with 55 gold medals. Australia was second overall with 95 medals (55, 24, 16) followed by Canada with 63 (8, 26, 29). Rounding out the Top 5 in the medal standings: Brazil with 45 (24, 11, 10) and Mexico with 44 (14, 14, 16).
Konkoly (Eagleview, Pennsylvania) entered the water just behind 21-year-old Madeline Scott of Australia but quickly took a commanding lead, helping Team USA to a 4:26.62 to 4:31.87 victory. She was joined on the podium by Jessica Long (Baltimore, Maryland), Brickelle Bro (Castle Rock, Colorado) and Elizabeth “Lizzie” Smith (Muncie, Indiana).
“Coming home in that relay, to be honest, I wasn’t sure where we were going to be by the end,” Konkoly said. “In the medley, Australia was so far ahead of us. When I dove in tonight, I knew it was close. I could see I was passing their girl on the first 50. I just gave it everything I had and left it all in the pool.”
It was Konkoly’s third gold of the event, her debut meet with Team USA. Konkoly, who has one season of eligibility remaining at Georgetown University, also won Wednesday’s 50m free and today’s 100m free.
“The individual swim was fun,” Konkoly said. “I was just going for a place. It was so awesome to chase Lizzie. She was right next to me the whole first 50 and I just thought ‘All right, all right, we can do this. We can get on the podium.’”
Smith was second in both the 50m and 100m frees.
“It’s always more exciting when you have a teammate up there with you,” Konkoly said.
Team USA won seven total titles on Day 5.
In addition to Konkoly, titles were also won by Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nevada), who claimed the gold medal in the women’s 100m free S7, Long, who won the S8, and Becca Meyers (Timonium, Maryland), who won the S9. Long, a 12-time Paralympic champion, also won the women’s 100m breaststroke SB8.
Colleen Young (St. Louis, Missouri) topped Meyers to take the women’s 100m breast SB13, 1:19.23 to 1:24.06. Earlier this week, Meyers swam a world record 2:26.86 in the women’s 200-meter individual medley S13 and a world record 4:25.31 in the women’s 400-meter freestyle S13.
Other Team USA medals on the day included Michael DeMarco’s (San Diego, California) silver medal in the men’s 50m breaststroke SB2.
On the women’s side, Kayla Wheeler (Lynnwood, Washington) placed second in the women’s 100m free S3 while teammate Alyssa Gialamas (Naperville, Illinois) was second in the S5. Martha Ruether (Allegany, New York) was also second in the S13. Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, New Mexico) claimed the silver medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke SB11.
In the relays, the U.S. team of DeMarco, Roderick Sewell (Florence, Alabama), Roy Perkins (Del Mar, California) and Rafael Castillo (Miami, Florida) were third to Brazil and Australia in the men’s 4x50m 20 point medley. A bronze also went to the U.S. team of Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Maryland), Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Indiana), Lucas McCrory (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) and Cody Bureau (Latrobe, Pennsylvania) in the men’s 4x100m 34 point free relay.
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