Anastasia Pagonis’s World Records Headline Day 2 of U.S. Paralympic Trials

Anastasia Pagonis; Photo Courtesy: Joe Kusumoto/USOPC

Anastasia Pagonis twice lowered the world record in the women’s S11 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. Paralympic Trials Friday in Minneapolis.

Pagonis swam a time of 4 minutes, 59.28 seconds in prelims, then lowered it to 4:56.16 in the finals. That trounced the world record of 5:02.19 set by the Netherlands’ Liesette Bruinsma in 2019.

Pagonis, a 17-year-old from Long Island, is competing in her first Paralympic Trials.

“It’s really exciting,” Pagonis said in a press release. “I never thought this would end up happening when I lost my vision two years ago. I never thought I would be here. So just being in this environment is exciting.”

Pagonis also set the S11 record in the women’s 100 free, winning in a time of 1:06.89.

Pagonis accounted for three of the eight record swims on the day. Leanne Smith went 54.20 in the women’s S3 50 backstroke to set an American record. She had dashed the old record in prelims at 55.67.

David Abrahams set another American record in the S13 100 free at 56.80, as did Matthew Torres in the S8 400 free (4:29.52).

McKenzie Coan was one-hundredth off of the American record in the S7 400 free with a winning time of 5:04.88. She also won the 100 free in 1:10.80. Second in that race was Mallory Weggemann.

“I really wanted to go out and have a solid swim,” Coan said. “I was looking for that early speed and I think I found it a little bit better than this morning, so I’m really happy with it. It’s funny, I always say the 400 is my favorite event, but I think the 100 free is a close second. I would love to see more early speed so that’s definitely what I’m going to be focusing on when I go back for the Tokyo Games. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go even faster at Games, hopefully.”

The best race of the day came in the S9 400 free, between a pair of Minnesotans. The winner was Edina’s Natalie Sims, who touched in 4:57.85, just .01 ahead of Grant native Summer Schmit.

“All I was thinking in my mind was, ‘I’ve been training so hard to get here that I just want to finish strong,’” Sims said. “I finished with my right hand, but my best time ever, under five for the first time, so very exciting. It was a PR, a lifetime best. It’s a gut-buster for sure. When you feel that gut feeling and your legs start to feel like Jell-O, you know you swam it right.”

In the S8 class, Jessica Long picked up her third win of the meet, going 4:44.31 as she continues on her quest for a fifth Paralympics. She edged Morgan Stickney by just over a second. Stickney had entered the event ranked first in the world with Long second.

Sophia Herzog (S6), Mikaela Jenkins (S10) and Becca Meyers (S12) also won 400 free titles. Meyers added the S12 100 free crown. Hannah Aspden won the S9 100 free.

On the men’s side, Yaseen El-Demerdash swept the S10 100 and 400 free. Robert Griswold claimed the S8 100 free, and Evan Austin led the way in the S7 400 free.