2019 Pan American Games Finals Day 3: The U.S. Dominates Once Again, Securing 6 Gold Medals Heading Into Day 4

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The U.S. entered the third day of the 2019 Pan American Games holding the cards after tallying ten gold medals in a single finals session on Night Two. With a target on its back, the swimming powerhouse sought a repeat, as the third day’s eclectic slate of events seemed to cater to the States’ strengths on multiple fronts.

As chatter surrounding the World Championships dies down, all eyes are turning to the battle across the Americas, where some of the world’s best athletes anticipate the climax of their seasons. Wrapping up the last summer before the Olympic year, this Pan American Games is looking nothing short of spectacular, giving the swim community a feel for western talent that could soon establish its dominance on the world stage.

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Women’s 100 Free

Margo Geer reserved lane four with the only sub-55 swim of the morning, eager to lock down her first individual medal of the meet. Having already anchored two winning relays this week, Geer was armed and ready for another lights-out swim, which she more than accomplished.

Surging ahead of the field, Geer gained a healthy lead from the outset, ultimately crashing the pads with a 54.17, only slightly off her season-best time of 54.09 from January. Her closest competitor was in Alexia Zevnik, whose 55.04 was enough to earn Canada its first medal of the night. Brazil’s Larissa de Oliveira claimed the last spot on the podium with her 55.25, boxing the the States’ Lia Neal (55.62) out of the top three as she tries to rebound from an exhausting World Championships.

Canada’s Alyson Ackman fell in the rankings after earning a third place seed in prelims, clocking in at 55.81 to take down Bolivia’s Karen Guzman (56.59) and Brazil’s Daynara De Paula (56.88). Elisbet Matos rounded out the loaded heat with a time of 57.05.

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Men’s 100 Free

The U.S. winning streak came to a shrieking halt in the men’s 100 free, as Marcelo Chierighini (48.09) of Brazil upset top seed Michael Chadwick (48.88) for the victory. Chierighini wasn’t the only one to get his hand on the wall before the American sprinting stalwart, as Nathan Adrian created outside smoke in lane seven, surging to a 48.17 to beat his compatriot in the middle lane. Venezeula’s Cristian Quintero chased him, narrowly conceding a spot on the podium with his 48.84.

Breno Correia was not to be ignored, as he represented Brazil in the top five with a 49.14 while punting Aruba’s Mikel Schreuders (49.21) to sixth. Mexico’s Long Guiterrez jumped one place in the rankings, as his time of 49.84 was enough to shut down Brett Fraser (49.97) of the Cayman Islands.

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Women’s 200 Breast

Unsurprisingly, American Olympic hopeful Annie Lazor quickly turned things around for the States, fending off her teammate Bethany Galat (2:21.84) to seize the win and Pan Am record. A huge swim for both women, Lazor’s time of 2:21.40 would rank fifth in the world this year, just behind Lilly King’s season best from the Fina Champions series earlier this year.

Mexico’s Melissa Rodriguez failed to make the podium despite giving Lazor the biggest run in prelims this morning, as she clocked in at 2:25.81 behind Julia Sebastian (2:25.43).  It was a groundbreaking swim for the Argentinian, who earned the country’s first medal in the 200 breast since 1987. Mary-Sophie Harvey (2:28.98) of Canada fell to fifth, as she headed the final wave consisting of her teammate Tessa Cieplucha (2:29.59) and Laura Morley (2:32.87) of the Bahamas.

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Men’s 200 Breast

With the 200 breast being their only event of the meet, Will Licon and Nic Fink (2:08.16) had to make it count. After going 1-2 in prelims, the two men entered tonight’s final with the sole purpose of earning the U.S. its first medal in this event since 2011. In reality, the race was all their own, as they left the rest of the field to cinch the gold and silver with ease. Contrary to the final predicted by the heat sheets, it was Will Licon who came out victorious, posting a 2:07.62 to edge out his compatriot.

Miguel De Lara Ojeda put forth an even more historic swim for his country, earning Mexico’s first medal in this event since 1971 with a time of 2:11.23. The country turned out to be loaded, as Mauro Castillo’s time of 2:12.63 took the next spot ahead of Argentina’s Gabriel Morelli (2:12.83) and Venezuela’s Carlos Claverie (2:13.19). Marco Guarente of Venezuela and James Dergousoff of Canada rounded out the heat with time of 2:14.40 and 2:15.00, respectively.

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Women’s 100 Back

As foretold by the heat sheets, Phoebe Bacon manhandled the competition in the women’s 100 back, sprinting to a 59.47 finish to mark the only woman under 1:00 in the field. Bettering her time of 59.66 from this morning, Bacon successfully captured the gold while improving on her season best. Canada’s Danielle Hanus pushed her from the adjacent lane, crashing the pads with a 1:00.34 to edge out Brazil’s Etiene Medeiros, who slashed her time from prelims to make her way on the podium from lane seven.

America’s Ali De Loof found herself just outside of medal range with her 1:01.17, settling for fourth ahed of Brazil’s Fernanda De Goeij (1:01.59). Madison Broad came home quickly for a time of 1:02.44, tallying more points for her country while beating Carmen Marquez (1:03.07) and Krystal Garzoni (1:03.18) in the far lanes.

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Men’s 100 Back

Courtesy of a clean finish, America’s Daniel Carr found a way to out-touch Brazil’s Guilherme Guido (53.54) for the victory, shaving nearly half a second from his time in prelims. The Cal Berkeley youngster is quickly becoming one of America’s marquee backstrokers, winning the gold in last night’s 200 backstroke as well. Trinidad and Tobego put its first athlete on the podium after a breakout performance from Dylan Carter, whose 54.42 stole the bronze from America’s Nicholas Alexander (54.76) in lane three.

Canada’s Javier Acevedo put forth an impressive showing of his own, as the North American fended off Paraguay’s Charles Hockin (55.62) and Colombia’s Omar Pinson (55.83) to climb in the rankings with a time of 55.14. Jack Stewart Kirby from Barbados sent the meet into its distance events, as he surged to a 56.38 finish to round off the heat.


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Women’s 800 Free

Delfina Pignatiello of Argentina disrupted any plans of a U.S. clean sweep in the 800, as she cruised to an 8:29.42 finish to cinch a decisive victory. Gaining a commanding lead at the outset, Pignatiello used America’s Mariah Denigan as a source of motivation throughout the race, keeping her at her hip before building to a climactic finish. Brazil’s Melissa Eichelberger tried to hold on for a shot at silver, but ultimately faltered to settle for bronze after edging out Chile’s first A-finalist, Kristel Kobrich (8:37.22).

USA’s Rebecca Mann lead the charge for the top five, splitting a clean race to arrive at a respectable 8:38.25, distancing herself from Mexico’s distance weapon, Ayumi Macias (8:43.32). Brazil’s Ana Cunha defended her country’s honor with an 8:48.33, taking down Mexico’s Regina Ramirez (8:51.90) for seventh.

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Men’s 800 Free

Andrew Abruzzo furthered his already impressive individual schedule by earning top honors in the men’s 800 free, dropping a 7:54.70 to better Miguel Velente of Brazil’s mark of 7:56.37. Reminiscent of a sprint race, the heat was tightly packed, as Mexico’s Ricardo Vargas (7:56.76) and America’s Nicolas Sweetser (7:56.96) battled for a spot on the podium in the final lap, with Vargas emerging victorious.

Marcelo Acosta of El Salvador headed the second wave, eclipsing the sub-8:00 mark with a time of 8:00.96, as he held off Brazil’s Diogo Villarinho (8:03.17) for a coveted spot in the top five. Christian Bayo of Puerto Rico turned heads from the outside lane, as he and Andy Jose Gomez of Venezuela finished off the individual event schedule with times of 8:12.17 and 8:29.42, respectively.


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Mixed 400 Medley Relay

The recent addition of mixed relays to the FINA event program has proved enormously beneficial to USA Swimming, promoting strategy particularly in the mixed medley. With the States possessing deep strength in sprint stroke events, there’s no stopping the powerhouse from putting forth a slew of lethal quartets. In bridging the gap between men’s and women’s swimming, the change is altogether historical, as swimming is currently the only sport in which men and women compete together in such a way.

While the U.S. was seeded to run away with the victory, a shocking disqualification landed Brazil (3:48.61) on the tallest step, as Guilherme Guido, Joao Gomes, Giovanna Diamante, and Larissa De Oliveira combined forces to clinch a narrow win. Canada showcased its depth across all events with a relatively even matchup, as Javier Acevedo, James Dergousoff, Danielle Hanus, and Alexia Zevnik came from behind to post a 3:49.97 for silver.

It was Argentina’s Andrea Berrino, Julia Sebastian, Santiago Grassi, and Federico Grabich who earned third honors with a time of 3:50.53, as impressive splits across the board set the country up as an international threat to be reckoned with.

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