American Liz Pelton wow’ed the crowd in the day 2 prelims session from Guadalajara, Mexico when she broke the 3rd-oldest Games record in the women’s 100 backstroke. Pelton’s 1:01.57 broke the mark set by Barbara Bedford all the way back in 1995 at 1:01.71. The gold medal isn’t a lock for her, however, as she’s going to be chased by teammate Rachel Bootsma, another high school student, who was 2nd in 1:01.75, and Mexico’s Maria Gonzalez in 1:01.84.
The men’s 100 free was the meet debut for Brazil’s Cesar Cielo. Many have speculated that he could be faster across-the-board in his races at the Pan American Games than he was at the World Championships (where he took gold in the 50 free and 50 fly). At World’s, he was severely slimmed down, blamed mostly on the stress of his positive drug test, but in Guadalajara passes the visual test as looking healthier and more fit. He didn’t blow away the competition, but put up a 48.89 for the top seed, and lately has been masterful in this 100 free at slow-playing preliminary rounds against weaker. 48.2 or better should be the expectation in finals.
One swimmer who is not healthy is his teammate Bruno Fratus. The breakout star of the World Championships, but missed the final in his first race (50.51) as he is battling a case of tonsillitis. This is a huge ding for the Brazilian 400 free relay, who was to be the only serious challenger for the American 400 free relay in tonight’s finals session. The Americans are heading into that final with a 6-second margin between the two squads.
As for the 100 free final behind Cielo, it’s one of the bigger-named races in the meet. Brothers Shaune and Brett Fraser representing the Cayman Islands, the two Americans Scot Robison and Bobby Savulich, and the big surprise, 23-year old Hanser Garcia of Cuba, who has the 3rd seed in 49.08. Garcia has come a bit out of nowhere the past two years and is becoming a force in Caribbean swimming.
Tonight we’ll also see the finals of the 200 free, where Cal freshman Catherine Breed is the top seed, followed by Texas A&M sophomore Liliana Ibanez and recent Georgia grad Chelsea Nauta. Andreina Pinto and her sister Yanel, who are currently training at Florida and representing Colombia, sit 4th and 5th.
And finally, in the men’s 100 breaststroke, Felipe Silva and Felipe Lima will join Americans Marcus Titus and Kevin Swander as the top four seeds. Silva has made his goal to break a minute in the final (he was painfully close at 1:00.01 from Worlds). Edgar Crespo, who is a senior at TCU, will bring in the 5th seed.
LIVE VIDEO available here through Brazilian television at 8PM US Eastern Time Look for the one that says “Natacao,” which is Brazilian for swimming.