RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, July 20. THE Pan American Games continued to feature numerous medal-winning swims by the United States contingent, as Julia Smit and Matt Owen headlined Friday morning for the Americans. Meanwhile, Brazil's Thiago Pereira delivered a sterling performance en route to gold in the 200 individual medley, which supplied a sweep of the medley disciplines.
Women's 800 Freestyle Final
Another gold medal was garnered by the United States as Caroline Burckle continued the strong reputation of the Red, White and Blue in the distance-freestyle events. Burckle was followed in the silver-medal position by Mexico's Patricia Castaneda Miyamoto and the bronze medal went to Canada's Savannah King.
Men's 200 Freestyle Final
The United States' Matt Owen checked in with a gold-medal performance of 1:48.78, a mark that provided a comfortable triumph over the Cayman Islands' Shaune Fraser. The University of Florida standout was the silver medalist in 1:48.95 while Canada's Adam Sioui grabbed the other spot on the podium with an effort of 1:48.97. Brazilian Nicolas Oliveira, in the lead at the 150-meter mark, faded down the stretch and placed fourth in 1:49.49.
"I went out the first 100 relaxed," Owen said. "I felt great on the last 50 meters. I expected it would be a sprint at the end."
Women's 200 Butterfly Semifinals
The winner of the 400 individual medley and 100 butterfly in earlier action, American Kathleen Hersey took a major step toward another title when she led qualifying into the final of the 200 fly with a Pan Am Games record. Hersey, establishing herself as a contender for an Olympic berth, clocked in with a time of 2:08.89 to win the first semifinal. The second semifinal was also won by an American, as Courtney Kalisz turned in a performance of 2:11.53. Mexico's Prisciliana Escobar Torres was third-fastest in 2:15.19 and Canada's Zsofia Balazs was fourth in 2:16.04.
Men's 200 Butterfly Semifinals
Brazil's Kaio Marcio Almeida, better known for his prowess in the shorter fly events, paced the semifinals as the only performer to crack the 1:58 barrier. Almeida notched a time of 1:57.99 for the top seed going into the championship final. Placing second to Almeida in the opening semifinal was the United States' Eddie Erazo, who managed a showing of 1:58.41. The third and fourth qualifiers for the medal round were the Canada's Stefan Hirniak (1:59.29) and the Bahamas' Jeremy Knowles (1:59.51).
Women's 200 IM Final
The United States made it a gold-silver sweep behind the tandem of Julia Smit and Emily Kukors. Smit, the winner of the 100 backstroke in previous competition, took command from the start and held off a charging to Kukors to win in a Pan American Games record of 2:13.07. Kukors was less than a second behind as she registered a time of 2:13.88, plenty faster than the 2:15.42 that Canada's Stephanie Horner used for the bronze medal. The fourth-place finisher was Joanna Maranhao (2:16.99).
"Yesterday was a little tough with back-to-back races, but I was able to make it to the final today and got a faster time," Smit said.
Men's 200 Breaststroke Semifinals
The field going into the championship final is jam-packed, as six athletes produced times in the 2:17 range, led by American Scott Spann's effort of 2:17.17. Swimming in the second semifinal, Spann was followed in the second and third positions by Brazil's Henrique Barbosa (2:17.44) and Canada's Mathieu Bois (2:17.54). The first semifinal featured a win by Canada's Scott Dickens, the winner of the 100 breast. Dickens went 2:17.59, just ahead of the 2:17.67 of the United States' Chris Ash. Brazil's Thiago Pereira also moved forward with a swim of 2:17.64, fourth in the second semifinal.
Women's 200 Freestyle Final
American Ava Ohlgren and Canada's Stephanie Horner battled away from the rest of the field, but it was Ohlgren who secured the gold medal with a mark of 2:00.03. The Auburn University star narrowly trailed Horner at the 150-meter point, but pulled ahead in the final lap, with Horner touching second in 2:00.29. The bronze medal was picked up by Brazil's Monica Ferreira in 2:01.38.
Men's 200 Individual Medley Final
There was hardly any doubt whether Brazilian Thiago Pereira would prevail in the shorter medley. Taking the lead from the start, Pereira managed a Pan Am Games standard of 1:57.79, a world-class time that provided further proof of the Brazilian's ability to medal at next year's Olympic Games. Pereira had a one-second lead at the midway point and continued to pull away. American Robert Margalis was second in 2:00.69 and the bronze medal was taken by Barbados' Bradley Ally in 2:00.96.
Men's 400 Freestyle Relay Final
With Cesar Cielo handling the anchor leg, Brazil pulled away from the United States and earned the gold medal with a time of 3:15.90. Cielo anchored in 48.18 and was joined on the winning squad by Fernando Silva, Eduardo Deboni and Nicolas Oliveira. The United States took the silver medal in 3:16.66 behind the quartet of Gabe Woodward, Ricky Berens, Dale Rogers and Andy Grant. Berens was phenomenal on his leg, splitting 48.05. The bronze medal went to the Venezuelan foursome of Albert Subirats, Octavio Alesi, Luis Rojas and Crox Acuna in 3:18.97.
Special thanks to USA Swimming for contributing to this report.