Highlighted by gold medal performance from rookie Roderick Sewell, the 2014 U.S. Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Team continued to set the pace Friday, Aug. 8, in Pasadena.
Through the third day of action at the Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships at the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center, Team USA led the medal count with 76, including 18 gold medals, while Australia (59) and Canada (37) followed.
Two-time U.S. Paralympian Roy Perkins of Del Mar won a gold medal, then a silver during the competition.
After a number of world records were set on the first and second days of competition, including one each for U.S. swimmers Becca Meyers (Timonium, Md.) and Ian Silverman (Baltimore, Md.), only two world records fell on Day 3, both by Australian Daniel Fox in the 100m free S14. He swam a 54.80 in the prelim but then improved to 54.69 in the evening final.
Sewell (Florence, Ala.) won the men’s 100-meter breaststroke SB6 with a 1:40.68, easily topping Mexico’s Enrique Perez (1:49.52).
“I am surprised to win but at the same time, I did come into this with a lot of confidence,” he said. “I was worried that I would not win gold or that I would not medal at all but I knew what could happen if I swam my best.”
Sewell is making his debut appearance with the U.S. team.
“I’m feeling blessed,” he said. “This is my first international meet so to come here and win gold, it’s an honor. It’s a true honor to be here with this gold medal around my neck.”
Five-time U.S. Paralympian Curtis Lovejoy (Atlanta, Ga.) won a gold medal in the men’s 50m backstroke S3 while three-time U.S. Paralympian Michael DeMarco (San Diego) was second in the S4 event, then added a silver in the 100m free S4.
In the 50m backstroke S5, Del Mar’s Perkins won the gold medal, then picked up a silver medal in the 100m free.
“I’ve had a pretty good meet so far,” Perkins said. “The 50 back has been kind of a struggle for me over the years, so it was nice to get a best time in that today. I was a little tired when it came to the 100 free, but it felt pretty good. No complaints.”
Retired U.S. Navy Lt. Brad Snyder (Baltimore) won his fourth title of the championships, winning the men’s 100m freestyle S11. But the two-time 2012 Paralympic gold medalist, competing at a major international event for the first time since the Paralympic Games, later had his first defeat in the meet at the hands of Japan’s Keiichi Kimura and U.S. teammate Tharon Drake (Hobbs, N.M.), placing third in the men’s 100m breast.
“Tharon is one of the young swimmers who makes me really excited for the next two years,” said Snyder, a team captain. “We have a lot of really talented up-and-coming swimmers in this program and I’m just excited, honored really, to be a part of this experience with them. The young swimmers are really going to make everything leading up to Rio really exciting.”
Drake, 21, is a resident athlete at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. In the morning prelim, he set the American record in the event, swimming 1:13.98. He swam 1:15.78 in the final, behind Kimura’s 1:14.39. Snyder swam 1:21.15.
“This morning in the preliminary, I had a great swim; it was very smooth,” Drake said. “Tonight in the final, I added some time with a 1:15.78. It felt smooth, but in the first 50, I got off and hit the lane rope. But in the second 50, I felt great. I was coming back hard, but I just wasn’t there at the beginning. I can’t be disappointed whatsoever. I’m happy with the swim overall.”
An alternate for the 2012 U.S. Paralympic Team, Drake had complications with routine vaccinations at age 14, resulting in severe memory loss and permanent loss of eyesight.
Other medalists include Lucas McCrory (Chapel Hill, N.C.) taking bronze in the men’s 100m free S7, Evan Austin (Terre Haute, Ind.) taking bronze in S8, Ian Silverman (Baltimore) taking bronze in S10 and Tucker Dupree (Raleigh, N.C.) taking silver in S13. In the 100m breast, Austin was second in SB7 and Dalton Herendeen (South Bend, Ind.) was second in SB8.
On the women’s side, Colleen Young (St. Louis, Mo.) won a gold medal in the women’s 100m back S13.
Other top performances included Reilly Boyt (Fort Collins, Colo.) finishing third in the 100m back S6, Cortney Jordan (Henderson, Nev.) finishing second in the S7, Jessica Long (Baltimore) finishing second in S8, Hannah Aspden (Raleigh, N.C.) and Elizabeth Smith (Muncie, Ind.) finishing 2-3 in S9, Serafina King (Santa Monica) finishing third in S10, Letticia Martinez (Las Cruces, N.M.) finishing second in S11 and Leslie Cichocki (Palos Hills, Ill.) finishing third in S14.
Team USA finished second in the women’s 4x50m 20 point medley relay and the women’s 4x100 meter 34 point relay.
The 2014 Pan Pacific Para-Swimming Championships is the largest competition of the year for U.S. swimmers. Other top events on the Road to Rio include the 2015 world championships in Glasgow and the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto. The 2016 Paralympic Games are Sept. 7-18 in Rio de Janeiro.
For information, contact Jamie Blanchard, U.S. Paralympics, at 719-237-2179 or firstname.lastname@example.org.