2019 Pan American Games Finals Day 4: Charles Swanson Dominates Men’s 400 IM, Goes 4:11.46

Charlie Swanson won the 400 IM. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Despite tallying six gold medals in Night Three’s finals session, the United States entered the penultimate day of the 2019 Pan American Games with something to prove. Ending the previous night with a 400 mixed medley relay disqualification, the swimming powerhouse suffered a sharp blow, as the lethal quartet of Phoebe Bacon, Cody Miller, Thomas Shields, and Margo Geer was expected to make a strong statement on the world stage. That dream fell short after Miller prompted the disqualification by allegedly taking two dolphin kicks off his turn. With just four individual events and two relays on the docket, the U.S. was forced to rebound quickly to reestablish its dominance, while the rest of the continent hoped to capitalize on a moment to seize momentum.

As the U.S. and Brazil battle to protect their monopolies in certain events, the competition is quickly becoming one rooted in pride and tradition, elevating the stakes in the aftermath of the World Championships.

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Women’s 50 Free

After impressive performances in prelims, Americans Margo Geer and Madison Kennedy reserved center lanes in the championship final, hoping to capture momentum early. While this meet marks Kennedy’s third time participating in the Pan American Games, the talented sprinter has yet to achieve the coveted victory. As top seed, the veteran entered with hopes of attaining America’s first gold medal in this event since 2011, but this historically unpredictable event took a different turn.

While Kennedy’s dreams failed to come to fruition, Etiene Medeiros’ blossomed, as she sprinted to a 24.88 finish to earn Brazil’s first medal in this event at the Pan American Games. The only woman under 25 seconds, Medeiros bettered Geer’s (25.03) time by over a tenth, while Kennedy stroked in with a 25.14 for third.

Brazil’s Lorrane Versiani and Canada’s Kyla Leibel tied for fourth with a time of 25.52, swimming identical races all the way down to their matching reaction times. Bolivia’s Karen Guzman (25.56) put forth a solid effort for sixth, edging out Colombia’s Isabella Arcila (25.61) and Canada’s Alyson Ackman (25.87).

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Men’s 50 Free

Brazil swept the 50 free, as Bruno Fratus managed to get his hand on the wall first with a time of 21.61. It was equally a personal victory for the 30-year-old sprinter, who settled for silvers in both the 2011 and 2015 Games. America’s Nathan Adrian locked down second with a time of 21.87, upsetting the event’s top seed, Michael Chadwick (21.99). It was a season-best time for the silver medalist, whose tumultuous year involving a battle with cancer has hardly affected his attitude and racing capabilities.

Gabriel Castano of Mexico climbed in the rankings, falling just short of the podium with a time of 22.23. Pedro Spajari chased him, narrowly conceding fourth with a 22.27 ahead of Argentina’s Santiago Grassi  (22.28). Venezuela’s Alberto Mestre (22.40) brought up the rear, along with Surname’s first A-finalist of the meet, Renzo Tjon-A-Joe (22.58).

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Women’s 400 IM

The women’s 400 IM proved to be another historic event, as Canada’s Tess Cieplucha posted a 4:39.90 to earn Canada’s first gold medal in the event since 1999 despite her second-place seed headed into tonight’s final. Virginia Bardach of Argentina created some outside smoke from lane 6, as she split a near perfect race to drop a 4:41.05 for second. Showing no signs of fatigue from her 200 fly win earlier this week, Bardach managed to dethrone top seed Mary-Sophie Harvey (4:43.20), as she bumped her to third ahead of America’s Alexandra Szekely (4:45.29) and Mariah Denigan (4:48.47).

Despite a massive time drop from this morning (over three seconds), Argentina’s Florencia Perotti failed to climb in the rankings in the loaded heat, surging to a 4:49.25 finish to beat Fernanda De Goeij  (4:50.83) of Brazil and Monika Gonzalez (4:53.75) of Mexico.

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Men’s 400 IM

Charles Swanson earned the U.S. its first medal of the night in the men’s 400 IM, cruising to a 4:11.46 for a decisive victory. Attaining a commanding lead early on, Swanson made the race all his own, barely eclipsing the meet record of 4:11.14 set by Thiago Pereira. The race was certainly no disappointment, however, as Swanson cinched the States’ first gold in this event since Robert Margalis in 2003, all while surging ahead of the competition.

It was Brazil’s Leonardo Coelho who gave Swanson the biggest run, clocking in at 4:19.41 to beat his compatriot, Brandonn Almeida (4:21.10) by nearly two seconds. Ecuador forced its name on the scene with an impressive performance from Tom Peribonio, whose time of 4:22.21 barely missed the podium. Jarod Arroyo of Puerto Rico had an equally impressive showing, though his time of 4:22.87 wasn’t quite enough to attain his country’s first Pan American medal since 1991.

Hector Ruvalcaba of Mexico headed the final wave with a time of 4:24.18, as he and Guatemala’s Erick Gordillo (4:25.62) traded leads. Colombia’s Santiago Corredor topped off the individual event schedule with a 4:35.44.

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Women’s 800 Free Relay

The United States redeemed itself in the women’s 800 free relay, as Claire Rasmus, Alexandra Walsh, Sarah Gibson, and Meaghan Raab proved to be an unstoppable quartet. Surging ahead of the rest of the field with a time of 7:57.33, the women continued to churn out impressive splits to bury the competition. Raab posted the fastest in the field with a 1:58.14, bringing the women home to their gold medal moment.

Canada’s Alyson Ackman, Katerine Savard, Danica Ludlow, and Mary-Sophie Harvey combined forces to earn second with a time of 7:59.16, chasing the States from lane five to make for a North American showdown. It was enough to better Brazil’s mark by over eight seconds, as Aline Rodrigues, Larissa Martins De Oliveira, Manuella Lyrio, and Nicolette Goncalves stole the last spot on the podium with a time of 8:07.77.

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Men’s 800 Free Relay

Brazil pulled a win from lane five with its deadly combo of Luiz Melo, Fernando Muhlenberg, Joao De Lucca, and Breno Correia. All splitting under 1:49.00, the men put forth a cohesive effort that was good enough to better the United States’ mark by a decisive four-second margin. Despite impressive performances from Drew Kibler, Grant House, Samuel Pomajevich, and Christopher Wieser, the U.S. was unable to sustain its seemingly unstoppable momentum from the past three nights, ending the penultimate day with an upset.

Mexico’s Ricardo Vargas stopped the clocks at 7:19.43 after an impressive anchor leg. The Michigan University junior was joined in celebration by his teammates Jorge Andres Cesar, Long Gutierrez, and José Angel Gomez, as the men put the country on the international radar, standing alongside two swimming powerhouses in the medal ceremony.

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