We’re midway through day 3 at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara Mexico, and the medals look like they might begin spreading far beyond the Americans and Brazilians, who have 21 of the meet’s 27 medals thus far.
In the 400 free, American Gillian Ryan took the 3rd seed, out of the fastest heat, in 4:16.51. That sat behind only Venezuela’s Andreina Pinto and Chile’s Kristel Kobrich in the early heats. Pinto, who is training at Florida with Gregg Troy and crew, is having a very good meet so far, including a bronze in yesterday’s 200 free. I’d have a hard time picking against her here, though the final is pretty tightly packed. Kobrich is usually as focused as is possible on the 1500, though in an Olympic year she’s likely trying to improve her speed for sake of her endurance.
Also watch out for the 21-year old Mexican Patricia Castaneda, who touched in 4:16.91 to make it safely into the final. She was the silver-medalist in this event in Rio in 2007, and with that much more development, should be a challenger. The other American and USA Swimming National Champion, Ashley Steenvoorden, made it into the final, but probably won’t fight for gold. Based on what we saw from her in her first collegiate meet this season prior to departure, she’s got her sights set beyond this meet.
In the men’s 1500, the two Americans (Arthur Frayler, a Florida commit, and Ryan Feeley, a Michigan Wolverine) are the class of the field after the morning heats. Mexico’s Arturo Perez Vertti is probably the favorite for bronze.
In the men’s 200 fly prelims, another Michigan swimmer, senior Dan Madwed, took the top overall seed in 1:59.99. He was the only swimmer to dip under the two-minute mark in the race. Robert Margalis, who was the replacement for Matthew Bartlett, also made it in. This race should be the best final of the night, one-through-eight, and will also include Brazilian Kaio Almeida, Colombia’s Omar Pinzon, and former A&M swimmer Israel Duran.
And finally, the women’s 100 breaststroke is a three-woman race for the medals stand. Canadian teenager Ashley McGregor took the top seed in 1:09.24, which is a career-best time for her, but Wisconsin senior Ashley Wanland (1:09.26) and former 200 NCAA Champion Alia Atkinson (1:09.28) are very tight behind her. Atkinson, who is really a star in short course racing, broke her own National Record of 1:09.91 that was set earlier this year at the Sette Colli trophy.
If that race comes down to it, Wanland is the only swimmer out of the three who didn’t swim a lifetime (or even annual) best in prelims, and therefore has done the most to prove she’s capable of a bigger drop – though this may not be a focus meet for her; Atkinson has the most experience; and McGregor is the biggest unknown quantity, with a lot of youth behind her. I’ll take Atkinson in a bind, but will be extremely interested to see who takes this one. Minnesota commit Kierra Smith also made the final.
Live video for tonight’s finals can be found at this link. Click on “Natacao,” which is Brazilian for “Swimming”. You can also check out all of the Pan American Games competitions live. A personal favorite of mine is Handebol (Handball) – check it out, we don’t get much of it in the United States.