After a sluggish start, the American contingent at the Pan American Games has been heating up, and they capped off night 3 with three straight gold medals and a Pan Ams record in the 4×200 free relay.
One of just two teams to have all four swimmers split under two minutes, the Americans ran away with gold, smashing the Games record by almost 7 seconds.
That previous record was an 8:01.18 set by the US team at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. The 2015 edition of the U.S. team, though, went 7:54.32.
And while that in and of itself is good news for USA Swimming, each individual split was its own bright spot for the Americans.
First, here’s a quick splits comparison from the new and old records:
|USA 2015||USA 2011|
|Kiera Janzen||1:59.61||Catherine Breed||2:00.99|
|Allison Schmitt||1:55.98||Elizabeth Pelton||2:00.11|
|Courtney Harnish||1:59.61||Chelsea Nauta||2:00.49|
|Gillian Ryan||1:59.12||Amanda Kendall||1:59.96|
Starting at the top, Kiera Janzen was the U.S. Open champ in 2013, and looked like a future international contender for the U.S. But after a rough summer of 2014, Janzen was in need of a boost, and tonight she got one, breaking two minutes for the first time since that U.S. Open championship.
Also breaking a barrier was Courtney Harnish, the 16-year-old YMCA National Champion. Harnish had never been under two minutes individually before, and even with a relay start, her 1:59.3 is much better than her lifetime-best 2:00.46 in the individual race.
Gillian Ryan was a former U.S. National champ, too, and had hit a rough patch just like Janzen. Ryan hadn’t been faster than 2:00.50 individually in all of 2014 and 2015 combined, but split an outstanding 1:59.12. That offers hope that her freshman year at Michigan has really kick-started what was a promising young career for so long.
The star, of course, was Allison Schmitt, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist who hasn’t ever quite looked the same since that London race. But Schmitt took the U.S. from 3rd to 1st in her brilliant 1:55.98 split, roaring by Brazil and Canada with ease.
Schmitt could turn out to be a huge factor on the American 4×200 free relay at the 2016 Olympics if she can regain her 2012 form, and this was clearly a step in the right direction.